Second PartOf TheFirst Stage Labor:
Active Contractions & Active Labor
The second half of first stage labor occurs when you have started active contractions. In order to determine whether you have started active labor go to http://motherstobe.tripod.com/labordetection.htm
FOR FIRST PREGNANCIES
If your contractions have started and don't go away don't be eager to rush to the hospital yet. In almost all cases Dr.s don't want their patients in labor to arrive at the hospital until contractions are at least 6 minutes apart starting from the end of the previous contraction to the beginning of the next contraction. Only if your water (amniotic sac) breaks do Dr.s insist patients get to the ER as soon as possible. Once your water breaks there is a risk of infection and going to the ER then will assure that the risk is dramatically lowered. Also in most cases once the water has broken contractions can become stronger and closer than 6 minutes apart. I will explain a little later on in this section how to keep track of contractions and how to tell when your water has broken.
With first time pregnancies contractions can go on for 15-20 hrs until contractions become 6 minutes apart. With my first pregnancy I started back labor at 5am on December 21st and my contractions didn't get close to 6 minutes apart until 12:00 am December 22nd but ten hours later I delivered.
FOR SECOND OR MORE PREGNANCIES
After the first pregnancy the more deliveries you have had the faster the second half of the first stage of labor will go. If this is your second pregnancy chances are the time between when your contractions start to the time you deliver may be 10-15 hours compared to 24-28 hours with a first pregnancy. The one thing to remember with each labor is you don't go to the ER until your contractions are 6 minutes apart from the end of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction or if your water (amniotic sac) breaks.
Once your have found that you are experiencing labor contractions and not Braxton Hicks, you have started the second half of the first stage of labor. This part of labor is pretty much a waiting game before you need to go to the hospital. Only 5% of women actually have their water (amniotic sac) break on its own so don't be concerned about having your water break in public even though most t.v. shows and movies have their pregnant character's water break outside of the hospital. Unfortunately Hollywood only has limited on their movies and t.v. shows so they show the shortest form of labor which is the least likely to happen to most women.
The best thing you can do once contractions start is to stay on your feet and keep moving with 15 minute sitting breaks after every hour of standing and moving around. The main reason to keep moving is to promote more dilation and gravity helps baby move into the birth canal. The way I can best describe the birth canal is a long tunnel baby has to work hard to slowly move his/her way through in order to be born. From the time you start contractions your baby is just starting the journey hopefully face first into the birth canal and the journey is a long one which takes many hours.
The main reason why you need to move around once you start contractions is because not moving around and just sitting down most of the time can actually stop contractions in a lot of women or prolong labor. I found this information out from the ER staff when with my first pregnancy I sat on the couch most of the time and they asked what I had done all day. One occasion when its ok to stop walking but stay standing and relax is during a contraction when they start to become strong which is a few hours before the contractions get closer to 6 minutes apart. When contractions start they are usually just a little uncomfortable and as the hours go by they get a little stronger each hour until they become closer apart which is when they become stronger with each contraction. Even though at some point in time during the first stage of labor you may feel like you want to push. I assure you as my OB has told me, pushing at any time during the first stage of labor without being instructed to by a nurse or your OB won't accomplish anything, it will only tire you out, it may stress baby and cause a lot of problems.
If your partner is not with you once the contractions have started give him/her a call. If he/she is at work, even though the time you need to go to the hospital maybe hours away, I strongly advise your partner come home. Your partner is a great source of help and encouragement during this process and its always good to have your partner there with you incase you need to leave for the ER if your water breaks or if you start bleeding (more than just spotting). If your partner is your husband, boyfriend or a family member there should be no concerns that he/she will not be allowed to leave from work or have any job related difficulties because of the leave. By law under the Family Leave Act if a husband or family member if husband is not available, is assisting you in labor and delivery then by the act he/she will be allowed to leave as soon as possible without any risk of being fired or being docked in pay. What my husband ended up doing with both my pregnancies is making sure he had at least 3-5 vacation or sick days and he went back to work the day after I brought baby home which is 2 days after delivery. If your partner or husband does not have any sick or vacation days I'm positive by Family Leave Act he/she is allowed at least two days of vacation for labor and delivery.
If you are planning a hospital delivery and you don't wish to stay at home it is safe to go to a local mall and walk or do some last minute baby shopping as long as you are no more than 30 minutes away from the hospital you'll be delivering at and you will also need to bring everything you need for the hospital. Just make sure while you are away from home you are counting and writing down contractions so you'll know when to head for the ER. Also make sure you are not alone and your partner or a friend is with you.
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