|There are THREE stages of childbirth.
IN STAGE ONE, the CERVIX must EFFACE and DILATE. The UTERUS starts contracting and these contractions gradually become stronger and stronger, causing the
cervix to THIN and OPEN. The cervix dilates to 10 CENTIMETERS.
|STAGE ONE ends with TRANSITION. During transition, the frequency and strength of the contractions are VERY strong, and the baby is nearing birth.
|In STAGE TWO, the mother starts pushing and the baby is born. Most babies appear head down, with the baby's face toward the mother's back. If the baby is facing her front,
it is called POSTERIOR, and this position causes much more back pain than with a regular delivery.
Other presentations may be BREECH, in which the baby is either butt or foot first; and TRANSVERSE, or sideways. A baby in the transverse position cannot be born
vaginally unless the doctor or midwife (or taxi driver) has some magic elixir or something that can turn the baby head down last minute. A baby in the breech position may also
cause difficulties for a vaginal delivery, since the baby's head is his largest part, and the cervix may dilate enough to allow the body to pass through, but not the head.
|Two other complications in Stage 2 may be PLACENTA PREVIA and ABRUPTIO PLACENTA.
With PLACENTA PREVIA, implantation occurred low in the uterus, and the placenta detaches and is born before the baby. This is a grave
danger to the baby, since the placenta is the source of oxygen for him until he is born and can take a breath. This lack of oxygen (ANOXIA)
can cause brain damage. If it is apparent that the placenta has detached before the baby, the baby is taken through a CESAREAN
SECTION delivery as quickly as possible.
With ABRUPTIO PLACENTA, the placenta just detaches for unknown reasons, which causes the same emergency situation as placenta
If a baby is in DISTRESS because of the premature detachment of the placenta, or because of MECONIUM, or if the UMBILICAL CORD
around his neck, his heart rate will drop (BRADYCARDIA). If the baby is attached to a FETAL MONITOR during labor, then this drop can
be spotted immediately and the danger averted. Fetal monitors are used routinely in hospitals.
|In STAGE THREE of childbirth, the placenta is delivered. At this point, the parents are usually busy with the new baby, and this part is a breeze.
|The average newborn weighs 7 1/2 pounds and is 20 inches long. A newborn is assessed at 1 minute and 5
minutes with an assessment tool called the APGAR SCALE.
The baby's head is very large in comparison to the rest of him. The newborn may be covered with a white
substance called VERNIX, which is a waxy substance that protected him from chapping in the womb. They may
appear very red and wrinkly and may have a cone head! But they have chubby cheeks and round faces, and their
eyes are closer to adult-sized than any other of their anatomy which makes them seem very lovable and cuddly to