What happens during labor and birth
In this chapter, we give general information about labor and birth, and explain
some ways a midwife can support a woman all through the birth of her baby.
Labor is easier to explain in different parts, so in this book, we divide it into
3 stages — opening, pushing, and the birth of the placenta. This chapter has some
information about these stages, and we talk more about each of them in separate
chapters after this one.
In the first stage of labor (opening) the cervix opens
enough to let the baby out of the womb. For more
information about stage 1, see Chapter 11, “Opening.”
During pregnancy the cervix is long and firm, like a
big toe. For most of the pregnancy, nothing can get in
or out of the cervix, because the tiny opening in it is plugged with mucus.
Near the end of pregnancy, practice contractions begin to shorten and soften
the cervix. Even before labor starts, the cervix may open a little and the mucus plug
may come out.
In pregnancy, the
cervix is long, firm,
At the end of pregnancy, and
in early labor, the cervix gets
shorter and softer.
In labor, the cervix gets
very short and soft,