Stages of Labour

The first stage of labour

This is the longest stage of labour, varying in time, but on average between 7 – 10 hours for a first delivery. This stage is usually shorter if you have given birth before. Contractions get stronger and closer together as this stage progresses. The contractions feel like really painful period pains across you stomach and sometimes your back, depending on the positioning of the baby. Those contractions open the cervix, which needs to be 10cm dilated before you can start pushing the baby out. It is during this phase of labour, that you realise without a doubt that God is a man!


This is the part of labour when the baby’s head moves deep into the pelvis. It happens at the end of the first stage. Your contractions intensify at this phase and you may feel nauseous. At this point you may feel that you can’t go on anymore (too bloody right). But you’ve got this far, keep going your doing a great job!!!!

The second stage

Your contractions usually slow down at this stage (to about 2 – 5 minutes apart), although the duration of the contractions increases. You basically feel like you want to poo (it is the baby coming that causes this sensation). One of women’s main fears about giving birth (apart from the fact it hurts like hell) is that of doing a poo whilst pushing, don’t worry the midwives have seen it all before, you probably won’t know if you have anyway.

When you do start pushing it is a relief as the urge to do so is so strong and you are working with your body. If you have had an epidural you may need assistance, as it is likely you will not feel when to push. The midwives will tell you when to push and when to pant; the panting helps stop you pushing, so baby is not born too quickly, to prevent tearing. When the baby’s head emerges you will experience a stinging and burning sensation, don’t worry it doesn’t last long. In a few minutes you’ll be holding your new baby. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world, all the pain was worth it. Savour this moment!

The third stage

This is where the placenta is delivered. You may be given an injection to speed up this phase. The oxytocin injection can decrease the risk of heavy bleeding after delivery. You need to put in your birth plan whether you wish to have this injection or not. When the placenta is delivered it is checked to make sure it is complete.

You probably won’t even notice this stage as you will be so wrapped up in your new baby.