Textbooks describe labour in stages, mainly 1st, 2nd 3rd stage. Women and doulas can get very preoccupied with ‘where they are at’ in labour. Whilst the hospital system dictates this method of description and assessment it is important for the doula to diffuse this for the woman.
During the first stage each contraction makes the uterine muscle shorten, and this in turn pulls up the cervix into the lower segment of the uterus. The shortening of the uterine muscles decreases the size of the uterine space. The cervix is being drawn up into the main body of the uterus and dilating (opening). In the second stage, the baby is pushed down (with the aid of contractions/surges/waves/rushes), through the birth canal, and baby is born. During the third stage the placenta and membranes are peeled away from the lining of the uterus and are birthed.