Pregnancy and child birth are the two natural physiological functions that hold paramount importance for women.

Most women approach pregnancy and birth with a mixture of joy and apprehension. This is particularly true for first time mothers. Every mother-to-be expects an easy pregnancy, an uncomplicated labor and to deliver a healthy child.

Thus, the preparation for the birth of the child begins early in pregnancy. Help, support and suggestions flows in from all corners.

Mental attitude, positive grooming and adequate preparation bestow optimism in the mother-to-be. A mother-to-be who is understand her body changes and mentally and emotionally fit to handle them is sure to enjoy a beautiful motherhood.

Unending support from husband, in-laws and parents go a long way in delivering and raising a healthy child. This preparation can even begin before the child is conceived.

Understanding Labor

The birth process is both rewarding and challenging. It is in all regards a new leash of life for the mother and child. The birth process is divided into three different stages. The three steps together are called the Labor Process:

Dilation– The first stage of labor involves the thinning and widening of the cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus at the end of the vaginal canal and is composed of muscle and fibrous tissue. This thinning process occurs when the contractions or labor pain starts. At this stage the contractions are usually 20-30 seconds in duration and about two to three minutes apart. With each contraction, the baby moves further down the birth canal.

Expulsion- The second stage begins when the cervix is completely dilated at ten centimeters and ends when the child is born. At this stage, the contractions are usually at 60 to 70 seconds in duration and about happen much quicker than in dilation. The length of contractions may last up to 90 seconds.

With each contraction, the baby is pushed down further. The actual birth of the baby occurs rather quickly after the widest part of the infants head becomes visible.

Delivery of the Placenta– The third and last stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta. There is seldom any pain associated with the expulsion of the afterbirth. The new mother is now allowed to see and hold her baby before leaving the delivery room.