How is the first stage of labor characterized?

Updated: Jan 24, 2019
  • Author: Sarah Hagood Milton, MD; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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Begins with regular uterine contractions and ends with complete cervical dilatation at 10 cm

Divided into a latent phase and an active phase

The latent phase begins with mild, irregular uterine contractions that soften and shorten the cervix

Contractions become progressively more rhythmic and stronger

The active phase usually begins at about 3-4 cm of cervical dilation and is characterized by rapid cervical dilation and descent of the presenting fetal part

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