For many, the experience of childbirth can be one of the most intense and fulfilling pinnacles in life. It has been described every name in the book. From being spiritual, life-changing to downright painful. Practically though, every new mom to be will benefit from knowing exactly what to expect from the first labor contractions to the time of her baby’s first cry.

This section takes into account the general steps a woman goes through as she transitions from being pregnant to being a mom. These are as follows:

Natural Labor

  • Upon arrival at the hospital, you will be checked in to your labor and delivery room. In case your contractions are not crucial yet, you may be asked to sign some papers regarding insurance first.
  • Your nurse will hook you up to a monitor, which will start to track down your baby’s heartbeat and the frequency of your contractions. She will also perform regular checks on your cervix to check dilation and effacement.


In case you decide to undergo an epidural, you will be asked to lean on something and relax your back muscles. The epidural will feel nothing more like a prick from an IV. You will feel cold coming in at which point your feet and legs will start going numb.

Stages of Labor

1. Early Labor. Contractions regular, happening at 30 -45 seconds per at intervals of five to 20 minutes in between. This stage can last between two to twelve hours. It is best to remain active and engage in some light walking during this stage.

2. Active labor. Contractions will occur at three to five minute intervals, each one lasting for 45 – 60 seconds. If you have not had an epidural, this stage will be very painful. Continue walking around or shifting positions often at this stage.

3. Transition Labor. Here your contractions will occur at a rate of every two to three minutes, each one lasting anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds each. This stage is very painful and intense but lasts only very briefly (only 15 – 20 minutes in total). Your cervix will be at 10cm at this point and you must be prepared to go into delivery shortly.

4. Pushing stage. This will most likely last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. Your contractions, though not as intense as in transition, will be happening every three to five minutes. Pushing can be very exhausting but you will be guided accordingly, you will also feel a renewed sense of energy once your baby’s head is out. Upon delivery, you will be given the option to cut the cord.

5. If you turn down the offer, the doctor will do it for you. The baby’s nose and mouth will be suctioned at this point to enable him to breathe on his own. You will be allowed to look at your baby before she is taken to the warmer for her APGAR test (which will determine his health).

6. Delivery of Placenta. This final stage of the delivery may last up to 45 minutes. You will experience mild contractions as well as heavy bleeding as the placenta is finally expelled from your stomach.