Labor is considered “normal” when the woman is at or near term, nocomplications exist, as single fetus presents by vertex and labor is completed within24 hrs. The course of labor has 4 stages:
First Stage of Labor
The first stage of labor is the longest. There are three phases within the firststage: Early or latent phase, Active phase and Transition phase. At the end of thefirst stage, the cervix is dilated to 10 centimeters. In mothers having their first child,this stage usually lasts 12 to 16 hours. For women having second or subsequentchildren, the first stage lasts around 6-7 hours.
During the early or latent phase, the cervix dilates to 4 centimeters.The duration of the first phase is the longest, averaging around 8 hours. Your contractions may be irregular, progressing to rhythmic and methodical. Thepain felt at this early stage may be similar to menstrual pain: aching, fullness,cramping and backache. You will still be able to walk. Walking is usually morecomfortable than sitting. Most women spend these hours at home, or theymay be checked at the hospital and sent home until labor becomes moreactive. You may feel eager, excited and social. It is important that youconserve your energy for the work of labor.
Active labor is marked by regular contractions that become longer,stronger and closer together over time. Most providers recommend that yougo to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart, lasting more