Active Labour

Labour is progressing faster now and contractions are occurring in definite patterns. This is the time to go the place where you are giving birth.
What’s happening?

The baby descends farther in the pelvis
The cervix completes thinning and dilates to 7 cm
At the beginning of this phase 2-3 contractions come in ten minutes with each contraction lasting 45-60 seconds. By the end of this phase often 3-4 contractions come in ten minutes with each contraction lasting 60-90 seconds.

Physically, you may feel some or all of these:
Contractions have a definite rhythm
Less or no appetite
Unwilling to talk during contractions
Unwilling to change positions during contractions
Times of feeling tired

Emotionally, you may feel some or all of these:
A need to focus more during contractions. Distractions may not help anymore
A need to help stay focused during contractions
Quieter, more inward
A need to have your support person closer to you during contractions

What to do to help yourself
Use slow deep breathing with each contraction
Use light breathing at the peak of a contraction if you need to
Use rituals and routines that may include vocalizing
Concentrate on a focal point during a contraction
Continue to take the contractions “one at a time”
Relax/cat nap between contractions
Relax in a bath or shower
Change positions (with the help of your partner)
Move your body or just your hips (swaying your hips, rocking, bouncing on the exercise ball) during a contraction
Massage between contractions
Drink, especially water
Empty your bladder every 1-2 hours
Have cold packs put on your lower back
Continue to use TENS
Listen to music

What your labour partner can do to help Be close to during contractions
Get something for her to drink
Go for walks with her
Help her to change positions and sway her hips during contractions if at all possible
Help her to relax by massage (back, hands, feet, head, shoulders), read to her, encourage her to laugh
Remind her to go to the bathroom every 1-2 hours
Pour a bath for her and help her in and out. Pour water over her belly during contractions.
Call care provider(s)
Help her continue her ritual. Encourage her to vocalize
Put cold compresses on her lower back
Change the lighting to increase her sense of privacy
Drive carefully to the hospital

Prepared by: Childbirth Education Curriculum Project Ad Hoc Committee
Approved by: BC Women’s Family Education Advisory Committee