How Long Was Your Labor? | Santa Rosa Family Photographer | Sonoma County Photographer

When my clients learn that I’m a Labor and Delivery Nurse, they quickly want to share their labor stories. I love hearing about their experiences and THEIR truths.

I can honestly say a lot of healthcare workers are quick to roll their eyes or give a little inner giggle when they hear someone’s medical experience. Myself and a lot of labor and delivery nurses are guilty of this. We hear some pretty dramatic stories about labor. Whether it be what a nurse said or did, or about an emergency cesarean section. Sometimes the sequence of events a woman shares makes the story hard to believe, or seem like nonsense. But I’m here to say that these experiences and stories are these women’s truths. These are the memories they carry with them and what they share with their family and friends. When you book me as your Santa Rosa family photographer, I promise to listen.

So that’s where my question about the length of labor comes in. Women LOVE talking about their labor. It’s like a way of bonding; a shared experience amongst all mothers. Sometimes a very long labor can seem like a badge of honor. But how long is long? What is normal? As your local labor and delivery nurse and Family Photographer, I’m want to share some facts about labor.

The Stages of Labor

There are different stages of labor, latent, active, transition, and second stage, or pushing.

The latent phase of labor is the very first stage and can be the most grueling for a first time mom. During this phase, the cervix is 1-4 centimeters dilated. This phase can last 24 hours or even for few days for the unlucky. This is called prodromal labor. It is exhausting, frustrating, and can make a women’s coping mechanisms go right out the window. When patients call me in prodromal labor, I encourage them to rest as much as possible. Spoiler alert, walking will not make your labor start, it will only make you more tired. If you are pregnant women reading this and find yourself contracting for days without making any cervical change, sit down and put your feet up. Stay hydrated and take a nap. Ignore your mom who wants you to go on a walk.

Active labor for a first time mom is when the cervix is 5 centimeters or more. Typically contractions are every 2-4 minutes and last about 60-90 seconds. The shower is a great way to manage pain during this stage. We call it the “Midwife’s epidural”. The water can be very soothing on the belly. I encourage moms to turn on their favorite music that keeps her calm and rock or dance with her partner.

Transition and Pushing

Transition is the end of the active stage. The cervix is 7-9 centimeters and the contractions are coming fast and strong. It’s very hard to rest in between contractions because they are so intense and it can be difficult to focus. Having a partner who can keep you calm and being in an environment in which you feel safe is so important. Women can feel very out of control during transition. A lot of women feel scared and start doubting their ability to birth a baby.

The last stage is called second stage. This is when the cervix is completely dilated and it’s time to push. If you don’t have an epidural, then the urge to push is uncontrollable. Most women describe it as feeling like they have to poop. Even some women with epidurals can have the same sensation of needing to poop, but unlike an unmedicated mom, they can usually hold it.

So there you have it! You probably didn’t expect a Santa Rosa Family Photographer to explain the stages of labor to you. If you need some resources on how to cope with labor, check out this post by Birth Hour, they share some great tips.

Morgan Family Pictures | Santa Rosa Family Photographer

When we booked this session, we were going back and forth on whether or not to take pictures at the beach. The beach can be tricky for young kids. Sonoma County beaches aren’t known for warm weather or water. It can be very windy and pretty chilly there. But this family has the beach in their hearts and souls, so we chanced it and we were so glad we did. We were so lucky to have the perfect beach weather, 70 degrees and no wind. It was the perfect day for family pictures. The kids ran around and I was able to capture some great candid shots of everyone playing.

Are you interested in booking family photos? Click here to email me about scheduling.

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