- Pregnancy Day By Day defines this phase as the individual point for each woman where cervical change happens more quickly and predictably. For most women, active labor occurs at around 4 cm dilation.
- The cervix is stretched and softened.
- Blood loss occurs if it hasn’t happened in the latent stage.
- Contractions are regular 5 to 7 minutes apart.
- In active labor the nature of contractions changes, with pain becoming less concentrated in the lower abdomen, instead starting higher in the abdomen and moving toward the pelvis and lower back as your baby is pushed down. Contractions are caused by a painful tightening of the muscles that may start off feeling like a severe period pain and increase in intensity as they reach their peak. Your doctor will assess if you’re in active labor by observing your pain levels, the frequency and strength of contractions, and by using a tool called a labor curve, which plots cervical change and the positions of your baby’s head in relation to your pelvis over time.
- Your water may break.
- Focus during contractions.
- Adjustment to pain and looking for the best positions and ways to support it.
- Labor can be interrupted in the event of disturbing factors (distractions, transfers, non adequate persons).
- Active positions: that allow you to remain active to help labor to progress. Some women find rocking the pelvis backward and froward, and then rotating the pelvis in a clockwise and then counterclockwise directions while standing or sitting on a birthing ball, helps ease the pain. Adopting an all-fours position on your hands and knees can help you stay focused and also allows you to rotate your pelvis. Moving backward and forward in a rocking chair can also be comforting. Many women find walking in place and walking around helpful.
- Supported positions: these can be especially helpful if you baby is in an occiput-posterior position (baby’s back to your back). Leaning forward with your hands on a table or chair during a contraction and breathing slowly and steadily helps to focus. If you find it comforting, your partner can massage your shoulders and back at the same time. A lot of women find sitting astride on a chair and facing the back of the chair or sitting on a toilet and facing the tank with a pillow for their head and arms, a comfortable position.
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