The first stage of labour – the basics

So, what are the quick basics facts about the first stage of a vaginal childbirth? In this Blog, we give you the easily comprehensible facts in a 3 minute or less read…

♥    Generally, your first stage of labour will last anywhere between 12 to 19 hours.  Some less.  Some more.

    The first stage of labour includes early labour (or the latent phase), active labour and transition.

    Your cervix will go from 0 cm dilated to 10 cm dilated.

When does it begin?

♥    For most women, normal labour occurs between 37 and 42 weeks’ gestation.

    How labour starts is not an exact science.

♥    Experts suggest that the timing may be related to the unborn baby’s brain activity.  There is also a suggestion that progesterone is metabolised to oestrogen, which increases the sensitivity of the uterus to prostaglandins and oxytocin.

    Some say that this stage of labour will generally start when your baby settles lower into your pelvis.  As your baby puts downwards pressure on your cervix, it begins to efface, or become thinner and dilate and widen.

What are the signs

    the most common – Contractions.  If the contractions are not regular, then it is unlikely that labour has commenced.  Regular contractions will last between 30 seconds and come every 15 to 20 minutes.

♥    Cramping.  You may also experience some cramping or lower back pain that doesn’t go away when you change positions.

    You have your show.  That is your mucus plug (show) will be discharged out your vagina.  It has been blocking the entrance to your cervix for the duration of your pregnancy.  Your mucus plug can be clear and may have a brownish or reddish tinge.  It may come apart as a clump or in bits and pieces.

    Waters break.  Although not as common as Hollywood would have you believe, your waters may also break.  This could be a gush or a slow trickle.  Often women think they have wet themselves when in fact their waters have broken.  The opposite is also true.  If you are unsure, then pop a pad in your underwear.  Amniotic fluid (your waters) smells nothing like urine.


Hi! Natural Birth and Motherhood is about empowering women who are going through the stages of pregnancy, birth or motherhood.  Find out more useful information on related topics by clicking the Blog button below.

3 Replies to “The first stage of labour – the basics”

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