How will my birth be? Unfortunately we cannot predict this. But report on how a natural birth normally happens – namely in four birth stages. How long these last, how frau feels about them – this is individually different. But it is advisable to find out about them in advance. Because well prepared is half won!
The birth phases of a natural birth:
- 1. The opening phase: Here we go!
- 2. The transition phase: It’s time to get serious!
- 3. The expulsion phase: pushing!
- 4. The postpartum phase: it’s done!
1. The opening phase: Here we go!
With the onset of contractions, which occur at shorter intervals and become more regular, the birth begins.
In the opening period, under the onset of opening contractions, the cervix first shortens until it disappears completely. These contractions open the cervix to ca. 10 cm. This causes the tissue in the lower part of the uterus to become thinner and the upper part to become firmer and thicker. This allows the uterus to later develop enough strength to push the baby down during birth.
Experience shows that this opening phase takes the longest, with an average of 12 – 14 hours for the first child. As a rule of thumb, midwives say that the cervix should dilate by approx. opens one centimeter per hour. This sounds long, but is no reason to panic. Because there are breaks between contractions, which are deliberately used for resting. During the opening phase, you can support the contractions yourself by choosing a position that is as upright as possible and by moving around a lot both during the contractions and during the breaks. These breathers are important in between so that you can be powerfully active for the rest of the birth.
A positive attitude toward the labor work that the baby and body are now doing makes it easier for women to accept the pain of labor. Your partner can also help, breathe with you, massage and motivate you.
2. The transition phase: Now it gets serious!
The cervix is now fully open, but the baby’s head still has to pass through and slide a little deeper into the pelvis – the opening phase is over, the so-called transition phase begins. This means in plain language: the contractions are very strong, usually not quite regular and are often experienced as particularly painful. It may even be that you already feel an urge to push along, but the midwife advises you not to give in to this urge just yet.
In this phase, the support of the midwife and the partner or accompanying person is very important. Many women now have the feeling that they will not survive the birth, that they no longer have any strength. Some people rant and rave or get downright angry. Don’t worry: midwives are not angry if you give free rein to your feelings now. There is also no point in trying to control yourself now. The important thing now is: Focus on breathing and try to open up completely.
The transition phase usually doesn’t last very long, and then it’s finally time: the pushing contractions begin and it’s time to actively help the baby into the world.
3. The expulsion phase: pushing!
The baby has now arrived on the pelvic floor, and with each contraction there is an unstoppable urge to push the baby out through the vagina. The midwife helps with breathing and pushing.
It is important to work well with the midwife and not just push, even if it would be very relieving. During gentle pushing, the strongly stretched perineal tissue can be better protected against tearing and prevent a possible perineal incision. When the head is out, it only takes a moment, then the shoulders follow. This is clearly felt again before the torso and legs slide out very easily, often still with a gush of amniotic fluid. The baby is born!
4. The afterbirth phase: It is done!
The birth is done – but not quite over yet. This is because shortly after the baby is born, the uterus contracts, and the afterbirth (placenta) with the remains of the amniotic sac detaches after ca. 10 to 30 minutes from the inner wall of the uterus.
The afterbirth contractions cause the baby to slip into the vagina, and you may have to push a little again until the placenta is also born. In some clinics, a contraceptive is injected immediately after the birth, and the placenta is released by pulling on the umbilical cord, a procedure known as cord traction.
The midwife then checks that the placenta and the membranes are complete, d.h. there are no more remnants in the uterus and looks at the vagina, perineum and labia for any birth injuries, which then still need to be treated. This is really the end of the birth.
And we assure: Anyone who holds a newborn baby in their arms quickly forgets all the excitement and pain of labor and is happy about only one thing: the miracle of life!