First Stage Of Labor: The Beginning
The first stage of labor is a stage almost all women will go through whether you deliver vaginally, have a c-section or are being induced. The first stage of labor is the longest and least painful of the three stages.
The first stage of labor starts when baby has started the process of becoming engaged in the pelvis or also known as when baby's head starts to lower into the pelvis getting ready for when contractions start. This stage of labor is usually known to start when the cervix starts to open also known as dilation. For first time pregnancies dilation can start as early as 6 weeks before due date but usually starts 2-4 weeks before due date.
If this is not your first pregnancy its common to not start dilation and for baby to not become engaged until contractions start. A few women may be lucky enough and baby will become engaged and dilation will start as early as 4 weeks.
Through the first half of this stage Braxton Hicks contractions may become stronger than before, you may experience a lot of muscle aches and back pain as well. The best thing you can do to help with your comfort is invest in a maternity belt. The maternity belt will take pressure off your muscles, back and stomach.
HOW TO SAFELY HELP START DILATION
If you are in the middle of your eighth month and would like to help safely progress your dilation process there are a few things you can do. These are things I also went through with the information provided by my OB. Walking half a mile each day in weather less than 85 degrees will help the process get started by using gravity. If you can't walk half a mile outside it at home by walking around your house or even going to the store or mall and doing your normal walking there will help. If you are confined to bed rest just walking to and from the bathroom when you need to use the bathroom can make a difference. Another safe and effective way to start dilation and to start active contractions if you already have dilation is to have sex. As long as you have sex before your amniotic sac "water" breaks there is no risk of harming baby. When a woman has a orgasm during pregnancy a hormonal drug called Oxytocin is released in the brain which causes the uterus to contract. Later on during pregnancy the amount of oxytocin released may start dramatically effecting the uterus each month until the late eighth or ninth month when the uterus is matured or ripe enough to were the contractions from the oxytocin can trigger active labor. These are all safe suggestions and are worth trying but each woman is different and each pregnancy is different so they may not work for everyone.
YOUR DUE DATE
With first time pregnancies: I hate to tell you ladies but even your OB will tell you that it is very rare for a woman to give birth on her due date unless it's a scheduled c-section or scheduled induction which are only done when absolutely necessary if a risk is involved. For first time pregnancies baby maybe born as early as the day after your due date and as late as two weeks after your due date. In most cases if you go a week after your due date your OB. will schedule an induction mainly because after the 40th week the placenta and uterus stop thriving and start to weaken and amniotic fluid stops being produced. Even though that is happening baby is in no danger and is still safe.
For women who have had more than one pregnancy the chances of you delivering on your due date are good but it is common to not deliver until two to four days after your due date.
If you are carrying multiples: Whether this is your first pregnancy or not there is a good chance you will deliver as early as 35 weeks but most don't go beyond 38 weeks and in rare cases women can deliver as early as 30 weeks. The early due date is mainly because of stress put on the placenta and uterus. The more babies you carry the earlier premature labor is but don't worry, even though babies may need to stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), babies delivered as early as 26 weeks have survived.
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