Pregnancy and Childbirth

Labor and Delivery: What You Should Know About the Big Day

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Summary & Participants

After nine months of doctor's visits, large clothing, physical discomfort and joyous expectation, a mother finally reaches the last stages of pregnancy- labor and delivery. Join our panel of specialists as they take us step by step through the process of labor and delivery.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2009

Webcast Transcript

MICHELLE LAMOTHE, MD:  Hello, and welcome to our webcast.  I’m Dr. Michelle La Mothe.  Childbirth – depending on who you ask, it’s either the most wonderful or the most excruciating experience one can have.  If you’re facing childbirth for the first time, you probably have lots of questions and concerns – what happens exactly, how long does it take, what are the possible complications?

Well, joining me today are two experts to answer our questions.  To my left, Dr. Adrianne Moore, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Hospital, New York, and her colleague, Dr. Steven Hockstein, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Hospital, New York.  Welcome.  Thank you both for joining and talking with me about labor and delivery -- childbirth.

MICHELLE LAMOTHE, MD:  ... generally.  At what time of a gestation, or the length of time of a pregnancy, does an average woman give birth to an average baby?  When can we anticipate that?  Dr. Hockstein?

STEVEN HOCKSTEIN, MD:  A woman’s due date is 40 weeks after her last menstrual period – 280 days.  And that is about the time most women deliver plus or minus a couple of weeks.

MICHELLE LAMOTHE, MD:  Okay.  So you have a window there of about a couple of weeks.  Dr. Moore, what are the signs and stages of labor?

ADRIANNE MOORE, MD:  Well, the signs of labor are rhythmic contractions, generally about five minutes apart, and lasting for a full minute.

MICHELLE LAMOTHE, MD:  And there are how many different stages to labor?

ADRIANNE MOORE, MD:  There are three stages of labor.  There’s – in the first stage is – are both early labor and the active phase of labor.  In the second stage of labor, which is probably the hardest, the most physically challenging, is the stage in which a woman is pushing after the cervix is completely open.  And the third stage of labor is simply the delivery of the placenta.

MICHELLE LAMOTHE, MD:  Can you talk a little bit about, Dr. Hockstein, about the beginning of contractions and how the cervix or the neck of the vagina begins to open to allow the baby to pass through?

STEVEN HOCKSTEIN, MD:  Well, it’s very common – throughout the latter part of pregnancy a woman has contractions.  They come, they go.  They are generally mild, and they’re not regular in their pattern.

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