The Stages of Labor: From Early Contractions to Giving Birth

The Stages of Labor: From Early Contractions to Giving Birth

Giving birth is a wonderful thing, but it can also be intimidating and nerve-wracking for women who have never experienced it before. Although there is no way for anyone to tell you exactly how your labor process is going to be, it is possible to help you prepare based on the typical factors that impact every delivery.

If you keep the following three stages of labor in mind, you should be much more prepared for every step between having your water break and giving birth to your newborn daughter or son.


Early Labor Stage

Most women go through early labor for 8 to 12 hours, but it can last up to three days in some rare instances. During this time period, you can expect your cervix to dilate to 3 cm, and your water should break at some point before the next labor stage begins. It may be tempting to rush to the hospital when you first recognize the signs of early labor, but this is not actually necessary in most cases (especially not before your water breaks).

When you enter this stage, you can keep yourself occupied with light tasks or napping during the first few hours. It is important to remain well-hydrated, and you should eat something to help you keep your energy level up. This is also the perfect time to get your hospital bag ready, and you will want to start timing your contractions.


Your contractions are likely to start off relatively mild and inconsistent, but with time, they will become more intense and frequent. Contractions generally feel like a combination of menstrual cramps, lower back pain and tightening or pressure in your pelvis. Early labor usually causes contractions every 5 to 30 minutes, and their duration will range from 30 to 45 seconds. As your contractions increase in intensity and appear closer together, your body will begin progressing toward stage two.

Active Labor Stage

When this stage starts, it will finally be time to go to the hospital and give birth. For most women, active labor is a process that takes approximately three to five hours. Your cervix will dilate up to 7 cm, and each contraction will feel stronger. You can expect active labor contractions to occur every 3 to 5 minutes, and they will last 45 to 60 seconds. This is the primary reason that timing your contractions during the early labor stage is so important — because you will be able to make a more informed decision about when it is actually time to leave your house. If you are planning a home birth, make sure that your midwife is at your house by the time you reach active labor.


You will want to start using your breathing and relaxation techniques during active labor so that it is easier to deal with the discomfort of your contractions. Make sure that you move around whenever possible, and continue to stay hydrated. This is also the perfect time to begin relying more heavily on your support person.

Transition Stage Leads to Giving Birth

Your transition stage will be the most difficult part of labor, but the good news is that it only lasts 30 minutes to 2 hours in most cases. At this point, your cervix will begin dilating all the way to 10 cm, and you can expect very intense and strong contractions. These contractions are usually 60 to 90 seconds in length, and there may be a break of 30 seconds to 2 minutes between them. However, it is also possible for these contractions to overlap. If you have reached this stage without making it to the hospital, it will be time to request emergency medical assistance.


The transition stage leads to the baby’s birth, and this is exactly what you have been waiting for throughout the past nine months. You may experience multiple side effects during this stage, including vomiting, chills, gas, nausea and hot flashes. This is all normal, and you should turn to your support person to help you get through the unpleasant aspects of giving birth.

Make sure that you tell your doctor or midwife when you begin to feel the urge to push. They will help you time everything properly for the safest and most comfortable delivery possible. Your baby will be born during this stage, but your body will still have work to do after this happens. Expect an additional 5 to 30 minutes of contractions as your body prepares to deliver the placenta.

After labor is complete, your newborn has been cleaned up and you are holding your son or daughter in your arms, it will be time to take a moment to appreciate everything that the two of you have just been through together. This pause will give you time to recognize how strong you both are, and it will also provide a moment of peace before the next stage begins: learning how to look after a newborn.

Featured photo credit: George Ruiz via

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.


Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.


A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.


For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.


Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.


Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.


Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:



When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:


Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via


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