Usually, a pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks or 280 days. Labour is the process by which contractions of a pregnant uterus cause birth. During this process, the cervix i.e. the mouth of the uterus thins out and the cervix gradually opens which is known as dilatation. The thought of it can be quite daunting and you may have a million questions running in your mind. Contractions can result in a natural birth, induced labour or a Caesarean section.
There are three stages of labour – first, second and third. The first stage is the longest one and it involves the initiation of the dilatation – from a closed cervix (0 cm) to full dilatation (10 cm). The second stage involves the delivery of the baby and can take from 20 minutes to two hours. The shortest stage, i.e. the third stage of labour is where the placenta is expelled.
If you have any of the following, visit the hospital for a check-up to confirm if you’re in labour:
- Your contractions come in at regular intervals and increase in intensity with time.
- Your membranes rupture – water runs down your thighs without any contractions.
- Your vagina starts bleeding.
- You have severe, constant pain.
- The baby is moving less often or not moving at all.