At 36 weeks pregnant you will be very excited about the arrival of your new baby. This is a very special time for you and your baby.
It’s surprising to hear that this little baby has now grown to the size of a honey-due melon and could possibly weigh up to six pounds. This little bundle of fun could survive outside the womb, if you went into labour at 36 weeks pregnant – but it’s best to give them every chance to thrive and grow to full term at 40 weeks.
By now you have most likely stocked up on all of the necessary baby equipment – ready for the baby’s arrival home from the hospital. But lets not forget that you have a major life event to prepare for and that is the labour.
If this is your first time to have a baby, you will have many questions about labour. Read on to get a closer look at the three stages of labour.
36 Weeks Pregnant Labour Guide
First Stage of Labour
There are three phases to the first stage of labour early labour, active labour and transition.
1. Early Labour
It can take time for the first stage of labour to really take off. In this stage the cervix dilates to 3-4cm and it changes shape – from a long tube to a much shorter one. Braxton Hicks or pregnancy cramps can sometimes be mistaken for labour contractions but you will know if it’s the real thing if the pains continue.
The contractions shouldn’t be too painful at this point and it is fine for you to stay at home and watch a movie or preferably try to get some sleep.
Early labour can vary in length from one woman to the next. For a first baby it usually takes quite a bit longer. For some women it can be a full day before they feel the need to go to hospital while for others it can be just a few hours.
Women who have had previous labours are usually quite calm at this point if not a bit excited, however first time mums who do not have the same experience to refer to often feel nervous during the first stage of labour. Labour is difficult, there is no doubt but is is also beautiful so stay focused on the end result and pamper yourself with nice treats.
2. Active Labour
Your cervix will dilate from 4cm all the way up to 8cm during this phase of labour. The contractions will be much stronger, longer and will come more steadily.
You will be safe enough calling the hospital to say you’re on the way when your contractions are five minutes apart for one hour. Towards the end of this phase the baby begins to descend and you can assure yourself that you will see it soon.
For some women it is possible that the contractions will come as often as every 2-3 mins at this stage. You won’t be able to have a conversation throughout these contractions. Instead you will be focusing on your breathing. You may also be using pain medication at this point if you feel that you need it.
This stage can take up to 8 hours but maybe much less for a woman who has given birth before. The good news is that time really flies when you are focusing on you labour management. I would know as a mother of four. You really don’t notice the time passing during active labour and the birth itself.
At the end of the active phase you will go through what is referred to as the transition phase. This is when the cervix moves from 8-10cm. There is no doubt this is the most difficult part of labour. You may feel that you need to push but the cervix isn’t dilated enough so you will be told not to.
Don’t worry if you feel nauseous or like opening your bowels, this is all normal and will pass soon. Your baby is making it’s way closer to you with every contraction. Just keep focusing on their little face and it will get you through this tough stage.
Second Stage of Labour
Finally, you get to 10cm. Now you get to push. Follow the directions of the doctor or midwife and only push as much as they say. If they say to push gently then just do as they ask and push gently. This will really help to avoid tearing and stitches later.
Sometimes referred to as the “pushing stage” this part of labour is calmer as a rule. The contractions don’t come as often and in some hospitals women are given a break at this point – to rest a little before they start to push.
Sometimes the baby is still quite high up in the pelvis and the pressure to push is not so great. However the baby will move down a little more with each contraction and eventually the head will start to crown. You will see with a mirror the baby’s scalp peeping out of your vagina. It can be hard to believe they are so close.
The baby’s descent may be rapid or it may be slower with a first baby. Either way, find a comfortable position where you can push properly – bearing down as if you were doing a number 2!
This stage can take longer for women who have had an epidural as they don’t feel the same pressure to push. Sometimes babies are delivered in this stage in less than a half an hour while for others it can take more than an hour.
Trust in the experts and follow their directions and your baby will eventually make it’s way out, hopefully head first, then shoulders and finally their body.
Third Stage of Labour
At this point your baby will be well wrapped up and in your arms. You won’t care very much about the third stage of labour but the midwife or doctor will work gently asking you to push out the placenta. This won’t take long – just a few minutes. It’s not really painful and it won’t bother you at all.
You will probably be feeling elated at having your new baby in your arms – checking their fingers and toes – trying to figure out who they look like.
Your work is finally done. That is your labour is done but the real work is only getting started! You’ll have to check back in with me for more tips on what to do next.