The Journey of Nine Months The duration of nine months may have seemed endless, but as they have slipped away, you find yourself attuned to the new sensations within. Is it the onset of labor or just a false alarm? Monitoring contraction frequency now becomes crucial to deciding when it’s time to head to the hospital for childbirth.
Navigating the App: When a contraction begins, select “Contraction initiated” and choose “Contraction ended” when it ceases. Log four contractions to allow the app to analyze the pattern. Focus on both the duration of each contraction and the interval frequency—how much time elapses from the start of one contraction to the next. The app also enables you to view and adjust the time between contractions. To edit a contraction’s details, tap on it.
Understanding Braxton Hicks In the weeks leading up to your expected delivery date, you may encounter what is known as pre-labor or ‘practice’ contractions, Braxton Hicks. These contractions are typically pain-free; your uterus momentarily contracts and then relaxes soon after. Should these contractions be sporadic, lasting between 30 seconds to two minutes without increasing in intensity, it’s likely just Braxton Hicks—and not time for the hospital yet.
Initiating Labor: The Preliminary Stage As true labor draws near, you may experience consistent pain in your lower back or below your abdomen, signaling that your body is preparing. The uterus firms up, creating a sensation of weightiness. This signals an opportune moment to track contraction frequency through the app. Confirm the start and finish of each contraction with the respective prompts in the app.
If your contractions develop a regular pattern, growing progressively stronger and more frequent, it’s a sign that labor has begun. For first-time mothers, this initial labor phase, marked by the start of regular contractions to full cervical dilation (10 cm), typically spans around 13 hours. For subsequent deliveries, it may be shortened to approximately 7-8 hours.
The Early Labor Phase This initial stage can be so mild it might go unnoticed. Contractions are gentle, brief, and spaced widely apart. It’s often too soon to rush to the hospital. Instead, this period should be comfortably spent at home, where you can pack essentials, enjoy a soothing bath, have a light meal, or rest.
Remember to consistently track the frequency and duration of your contractions. They may feel like rhythmic tightenings of the uterus. At this stage, you might notice a thick secretion, sometimes blood-tinged—this is normal, as the mucus plug sealed your cervix during pregnancy. Phase duration: up to 8-9 hours. Contraction duration: 15-50 seconds. Contraction frequency: every 5 to 15 minutes. Cervical dilation: 0-3 cm.
Caution! If your water breaks or you encounter significant bleeding, proceed to the hospital immediately, regardless of the contraction pattern.
Active Labor Stage During this stage, each contraction contributes to further cervical dilation and the descent of the baby. Here, contractions lengthen and become more frequent. If contractions fall into a consistent rhythm of 5 minutes apart, lasting one minute over the span of an hour—the 5-1-1 rule—it’s time to go to the hospital. Nonetheless, always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice, keeping the hospital’s distance in mind for timely arrival.
Upon arrival at the hospital, contractions intensify in both frequency and duration, becoming more challenging to endure. To cope, consider:
- Finding a comfortable position or leaning for support.
- Resting on a birthing ball or your partner for comfort.
- Lying down to conserve energy.
- Employing breathing techniques or gentle movements to stay calm.
- Seeking a comforting massage from a support person.
- Another warm shower may also help to ease discomfort. These strategies may facilitate cervical dilation. Phase duration: up to 3-5 hours. Contraction duration: 30-60 seconds. Contraction frequency: every 4 to 7 minutes. Cervical dilation: 4-8 cm.
Transition Phase: The Final Stretch Hours have passed, and the intensity of contractions peaks, feeling endless and overwhelmingly strong. Physical and emotional exhaustion is common, alongside a heightened sensitivity to those around trying to assist. These are clear indicators that the second stage of labor is imminent, likely to begin within half an hour to an hour. Contractions become incredibly powerful and prolonged, signaling that the final push is near, as the cervix is fully dilated and the baby’s head has moved into the pelvis. Phase duration: 0.5-1.5 hours. Contraction duration: up to 1.5 minutes. Contraction frequency: every 2-3 minutes. Cervical dilation: 8-10 cm.
The Final Stages of Labor Following the first labor stage, the second stage commences with complete cervical dilation and culminates in the delivery of the baby. The third stage involves the delivery of the placenta. Once complete, you can relax and welcome the newest member of your family.
We wish you a smooth and gentle birth experience!