Childbirth and Breastfeeding Classes
Parents-to-be can access free:
- In-person childbirth classes at UPMC Western Maryland. Sessions start every other month between February and October.
- In-person breastfeeding classes at UPMC Western Maryland. Classes are on the second Monday of each month.
The Three Stages Of Labor
Read on to learn about the stages of labor.
Stage one of labor
In stage one of labor, your body prepares to give birth. The main goal of stage one is to widen the opening at the base of the uterus, called the cervix.
Contractions gradually get longer, stronger, and closer together.
The contractions push open (dilate) the cervix until it’s open wide enough for the baby to pass through.
This is the longest stage of labor as your cervix dilates from 1 to 10 centimeters (4 inches). It could take between 12 and 18 hours or more.
Stage one of labor often takes time and can be exhausting.
Tips to help you through stage one labor
Here are some tips to ease the process:
- Relax. Get comfortable using lots of pillows. Keep all muscles, from head to toe, as loose and relaxed as you can. Bring music to listen to keep yourself calm.
- Just add water. Many women find sitting in the shower or using the whirlpool bath relaxing. You can only use a whirlpool bath before your water breaks. A warm or cold wet washcloth on your back can also help relieve pain.
- Breathe. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe at a slow, steady pace. You can learn more breathing techniques during childbirth classes.
- Rest. Try to get as much rest as you can. The labor process is long and exhausting. If at any point you think you can sleep, do it.
- Get up and move. If you can’t sleep, walk around, sit in a chair, or use an exercise ball for support. Generally, keep changing positions. It helps keep things moving. You may want someone to rub your back while you sway.
Stage two of labor
Finally! Stage two is what you’ve been waiting for. Your cervix is open, and you may start pushing your baby out.
This stage may last two hours or more and ends when your baby is born.
A technique called “laboring down” can shorten how long you’ll need to push.
- Delays the start of the pushing and lets gravity pull the baby very low into the birth canal.
- Is most effective with an epidural to numb the urge to push.
- Can also reduce the damage caused by vaginal birth.
Often, birth will cause swelling of the area between the anus and the vaginal opening (the perineum).
Many people will also have small tears from birth. These tears can be in the vagina, skin, or muscle around the vaginal opening or the perineum.
Rarely will the doctor cut the perineum to make room for the baby to get out. This is an episiotomy.
Laboring down allows the baby’s head to stretch the vagina and perineum. It decreases the chances of swelling and tearing. It also is less likely to result in a fast, explosive delivery that can cause damage.
Sometimes, the doctor will need to do an “assisted delivery.” This would be when they use a vacuum or forceps to deliver the baby. This increases your chances of tearing.
Stage three of labor
After the birth, the doctors and nurses will check out the baby and clamp and cut the umbilical cord. Then, they’ll hand the baby over to you.
If the baby doesn’t have a good tone or isn’t crying, breathing, or moving, we may take them to the warmer.
During this time, you’ll also deliver the placenta (afterbirth). This can take up to 30 minutes.
If, despite all measures, you tear or need an episiotomy, your doctor will stitch you up.
Once finished, we’ll leave so you can spend time bonding with your baby, called the golden hour. If you have any issues after we leave, give the infant to a loved one or take them to the warmer.
Contact UPMC Western Maryland About Childbirth
If you have questions about our classes, giving birth, or our labor and delivery floor, call 1-240-964-6300.