There are three stages of labor. Each of these stages varies according to the woman and many other...
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There are three stages of labor. Each of these stages varies according to the woman and many other factors. The first stage includes early labor, when the cervix thins (effacement) and begins to open (dilate) from zero to three centimeters. This stage may take hours or days. During active labor, the cervix opens further, and contractions become stronger and more frequent. Transition follows with the cervix becoming fully dilated to ten centimeters, and the second stage of labor begins. Contractions in this stage become stronger as the baby is pushed down the birth canal. The head crowns (is seen from outside), and the baby is finally delivered. The second stage can last minutes to hours. During the third stage, soon after the birth of the baby, the placenta is delivered. The third stage, or placental delivery, usually occurs within ten minutes of birth.