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Nature has designed birth simply and elegantly. Although every labor and birth is unique, and your labor will unfold in a very special way, the process is remarkably and beautifully constant. What follows are the typical changes that occur throughout the stages and phases of labor.
The First Stage
During this stage, the cervix softens, thins and opens. The baby settles into the pelvis.
The process often starts out slowly with short, infrequent contractions of the uterus. Over a period of hours or days, the contractions become stronger and come closer together (the Prodomal and Early phases). As the intensity of the contractions increases, the cervix dilates and effaces and the baby moves lower into the pelvis (Active Phase). The contractions are most intense as the cervix dilates the last few centimeters (Transition Phase). At the end of the first stage of labor, the cervix is fully opened and the baby is ready to move through the birth canal.
As labor progresses and the contractions become stronger, you’ll become more focused and serious. Changing positions, walking, rocking or moving will help labor progress. Focused breathing, rhythmic vocalization, rest between contractions, showers and baths, massage and the application of hot and cold are only some of the ways to help you through the first stage of labor. As the work of labor becomes harder, your need for strong, continuous, focused labor support increases.