Thanks for reading on! If you missed part one, view the previous post to catch up! In this segment we will discuss the any personal information you need to include on your birth plan and choices you need to make for the stage one of labor.
Stage One of Labor
Stage one of labor is the stage of cervical dilation. This is when your cervix softens (effacement) and expands (dilation) so your baby can descend through the birth canal. This stage of labor actually has 3 phases all in itself! I know- it makes labor sound even longer than it already is.
The Latent Phase
The first phase, known as the latent phase, (on average) lasts about 12 hours, though I’ve known people who walk around dilated 3 cm for 2 weeks! In the latent phase the cervix dilates from 0-3 cm and effaces 0-40%. FUN FACT: The cervix CANNOT dilate if it isn’t at least somewhat effaced. Usually expecting mothers are kind of oblivious to the latent phase and don’t know it’s happening unless they just happen to have a cervical check at a doctors appointment. However, you will definitely feel the next phase of stage one- Active Labor!
Active labor is when contractions really begin to strike. A contraction is when the uterus tightens in order to- for the lack of a better word- squeeze the baby out. Productive contractions move from top to bottom sort of like an ocean wave. Braxton Hicks contractions are contractions you may have been experiencing for weeks up to this point, and that is your body’s way of practicing for the real deal. If you are having productive contractions you are likely in active labor. Doctors suggest you head to the hospital or birthing center when contractions are 3-5 minutes apart.
The final phase of stage one is the transitional phase. This is usually when moms have the “I can’t do this anymore” thought if laboring without an epidural. This is the most painful part of the whole labor and delivery process. Transition is when the cervix dilates from 8-10 cm and effaces from 80-100%. THANK GOD transition is the shortest of the three!
Ok. So we have some information about stage one of labor. Now….
What to Include in our Visual Birth Plan
As far as personal information goes, it is nice to include your name, daddy’s name, your primary care doctor, your pediatrician (if you haven’t picked one out yet, it is OK, I promise!), as well as the expected gender of the baby. I would also include the type of delivery you’re expecting (vaginal, cesarean, or Vaginal Birth After Cesarean -VBAC). If you’re a first time mom with no other complications, a vaginal birth is recommended and preferred. If you DO have any complications this is the place to include those. For example, I have an Rh Negative blood type and my husband is Rh Positive. Having a negative blood type can harm and affect the baby if the right precautions are not taken. I always inform the nursing staff that I am Rh incompatible with my baby and will be needing the Rhogam shot after delivery. If you have preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or Group B Strep, this is where I would include those details as well. In the personal information section of your birth plan, you can also say if you’d like limited visitors, and even the preferred lighting of the room.
Stage One of Labor
Now let’s get to stage one for our birth plan! This is when we have choices to make. Let’s say you’re not being induced and you spontaneously go into labor at 4am on a Tuesday morning. If you want a natural delivery I would recommend informing the nursing staff. Sometimes if things are moving slowly they will try to encourage things along. I am the kind of mom that prefers as few interventions as possible. The things I include on my birth plan in this section are things like “No augmentation of labor”, “No IV/Hep-lock”, “Free use of food & water”, “limited cervical checks”, “natural water rupture”, “intermittent monitoring” and “freedom of movement”. This part is really an explanation of how you want to labor and fight through those contractions. I would make choices that make you feel the most comfortable.
How to Download
If you haven’t already, click here to download the visual birth plan template so you can create your own!
Be sure to read on to get to the rest of my Visual Birth Plan Series!