The exciting day of your baby’s arrival has finally arrived! There are a number of stages that count as labour and it doesn’t always mean you have to race to the hospital immediately. Read below in my post. Pre-labour – Braxton Hicks contractions Braxton Hicks contractions do not mean that your baby is coming – they are “practice” contractions and occur when the baby’s head moves into the pelvic area. First Stage – Early Labour In the first stage of early labour it is often possible to stay at home. The uterus is starting to contract at this stage, and the cervix thins as well and starts to dilate. You may find that contractions feel mild and gradually build up, and get more intense as labour progresses. First Stage – Active Labour In the second phase of early labour this is often called ‘active labour’. The cervix dilates from 4cm to 8cm, and contractions become even more intense. If you are not in hospital already by this stage, this is usually the time to make your way to the hospital. Labour is advanced at this stage, and the cervix dilates from the 7/8cm in active labour to 10cm, which is when the cervix is fully dilated. Second Stage of Labour The second stage of labour starts when the cervix is fully dilated. If all is well, then it may be useful to allow the baby’s head to move down the birth canal with the contractions alone, without active pushing. Active pushing can then begin, and the baby will move further down the birth canal, and then the baby’s head crowns, and your new baby is born. Third Stage of Labour The final stage of about is the delivery of the placenta. After the arrival of your baby, the placenta will separate from the uterus, and you may be given oxytocin to help encourage the placental separation.