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Stages of Labor

Stages of Labor

Book Title

Essays in Developmental Psychology


Randall Summers, Charles Golden, Lisa Lashley, & Erica Ailes


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Labor, or the process through which a baby is born, is separated into three primary stages. The first stage begins at the onset of labor and ends when the cervix reaches a 10-centimeter dilation. This first stage is comprised of three sub-stages: early labor, active labor, and transition. The early labor phase begins at the onset of labor and ends when the women’s cervix is 3 centimeters dilated. This phase generally takes place over 8-12 hours at which point the cervix begins to open up (i.e., dilate) and thin out. During this phase, contractions, which are the uterine muscles tightening and releasing, begin to occur and take place in intervals. The contractions in this phase are approximately 30-45 seconds with anywhere between a few minutes to half of an hour in between. At this point, the contractions are generally mild and variable, but will become increasingly frequent and intense.


active labor, anxiety, birth process, contractions, early labor, labor, labour, relaxation techniques, transition

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This is one in a collection of essays as part of a project that began as an encyclopedia of developmental psychology coordinated by Dr. Randall Summers. However, for unforeseen reasons, the publisher was no longer in a position to publish the encyclopedia. This project was undertaken so that thousands of hours of work by psychologists would not go wasted. Enjoy these essays and feel free to cite them using the proper format.

Submit suggestions for corrections and topics to goldench@nova.edu.

Stages of Labor