How does a birth actually work? What are the individual phases of birth, what is their function and what happens to the baby during these phases? Knowing what to expect and understanding the steps involved in giving birth can help you better engage and mentally prepare for your birth. Therefore, together with Steffi and Janine from Hey Wow Mom, we have summarized the most important information for you here.

One thing first: instead of the concept of labor pains, which is associated with severe pain, we prefer the image of waves starting gently at the ankle and getting bigger, more powerful and stronger and traverse the entire body of the woman. They are the ones who ultimately bring the child closer to the mother.  

 When does the birth actually begin?
  1. For regularly occurring waves (distance and intensity are irrelevant), which are effective on the cervix and cervix and thus gradually lead to the opening of the cervix 
  2. and/or when membranes rupture.< /span>
1. The latency phase

= early dilatation phase - from the start of labor to 4-6 cm opening of the cervix

The duration and course of the latency phase is very individual and depends on the beginning of the birth. After a membrane rupture without waves, for example, nothing can happen for 24 hours. Women who are expecting their second or third child can skip this phase. The more children a woman has given birth to (parity), the better the body knows exactly what to do and the quicker it gets going. In primiparous women, on the other hand, the latency phase can last for many hours.

In this first phase, the baby relates to the pelvis and pushes itself into the pelvis with the preceding body part (usually the head). This puts pressure on the cervix and uterus, which then open.

This phase is used by women to find their way into the rhythm of the waves - this is about experiencing their power and the pain. Often doing the bath, sleeping or getting into the meditative state is good.

There is no time pressure here - it is important to see what is good at the moment. It can often be very relaxing to stay at home as long as possible and not go to the hospital immediately. In the case of an out-of-hospital birth, this is where the midwife's gentle care often begins.

2. The active opening phase

= 6cm until the cervix is ​​fully dilated 

When the cervix is ​​about 6 cm dilated, the active dilatation phase begins. The waves are now regular, very powerful and intense. The baby's head puts pressure on the cervix to open it wider - the baby pushes and twists through the pelvis.

The birth process picks up speed and becomes very dynamic. The course of the opening phase is very individual and, depending on the number of children born, also varies in length.

3. The exit phase

The exit phase is divided into passive and active exit - although not every woman experiences the passive phase. Depending on the course of the birth, this may be skipped and the active exit phase follows directly after the cervix is ​​fully open.

Passive = short break after opening the cervix / pause in the shaft 

The passive exit phase can also be referred to as the birth within the birth. Immediately after opening the cervix, the body almost stops. This is the moment when many women physically realize that they are about to become a mother. They become fully aware that they are about to give birth to their child and will soon be holding it in their arms.

"This is where the mother is born. At no time during the birth process does the woman come into so much contact with her own biography, with her relationship with her mother, with her femininity and sexuality.” (Midwife Forum, May 2013)

In this phase, a lot of patience and, above all, care and restraint are required from all accompanying persons. This passive exit phase is something every mother would like so much and it is so important not to interrupt it here.

Active = urge to press 

In this penultimate phase of childbirth, women feel a particular urge to push. Here they need all their strength. These now also affect the child, up to 50 kilograms of weight affect the baby here.

While the focus has been on the pregnant woman at birth up to this point, much attention is now focused on the child. The baby now pushes itself forward until it passes the perineum. First the head is born, followed by the shoulder rotation and then the child is born complete.

4. The afterbirth phase

= placenta delivery

The afterbirth phase is the time between the birth of the baby and the complete birth of the placenta, including the fetal membranes.

The duration also varies here, on average it is about 5 to 30 minutes. The umbilical cord is usually cut during this time - the umbilical cord between the baby and the placenta is severed. In the case of a natural spontaneous birth, the mother decides when she wants it - many women, for example, want the umbilical cord to be cut off later after the pulsation, and a few women even want a lotus birth. The placenta stays with the baby until it detaches on its own.

The afterbirth phase is the finale of the birth - only now is it really over.

Author: Jane-Lee Fromm

Eliane Wikert
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