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Stages of Labour

Last Updated: March 2024

As you enter the last months of your pregnancy, you may start to wonder about the future. You may also wonder about what happens when you go into labour. There are 4 stages of labour. Some will be more challenging than others. In this section, learn more about what to expect during labour.

First Stage

In the first stage of labour, you’ll have contractions, discomfort and pelvic pressure. These contractions will continue to increase in length and intensity during labour. This stage happens in three phases: early, active and a transition period. The transition period is what many women feel is the most challenging. For more on the first stage of labour, visit:

Second Stage

The second stage of labour may feel taxing. It begins once your cervix reaches full dilation and ends with the birth of your baby. You can expect strong contractions and an urge to push. This could last for a few minutes or a few hours. See information on the second stage of labour for more details.

Third Stage

You’ve now delivered your baby and have entered into the third stage of labour. In this stage, the uterus contracts and the placenta comes out. A health care provider will check and confirm that your baby is healthy. You’ll be able to cuddle your baby See information on the third stage of labour for more details.

Fourth Stage

The fourth stage of labour is the most exciting and exhausting. You have your baby in your arms. You may also feel discomfort, fatigue or dizziness from your labour. Take time to recover and rest during this stage. See information on the fourth stage of labour for more details.

Preterm Labour

Sometimes labour can happen earlier than expected. This is called preterm labour or premature labour. Going into labour too early can be risky for your baby. Babies who are born too early can have serious problems. Causes of preterm labour can be varied and difficult to separate from true labour. Learn more about preterm labour: