STAGES OF LABOR AND NURSING CARE
Section I. OVERVIEW
a. The goal of any mother and health care team is the successful,
uncomplicated birth of a new infant. Your understanding of the process of labor and
what it entails will allow you to provide adequate comfort measures to the patient and to
assist her through this long awaited event. Although much pain or discomfort may be
experienced by the mother and those concerned, labor and delivery of an infant is an
eventful time after a long nine months of pregnancy.
b. Labor is defined as the onset of rhythmic contractions and the relaxation of
the uterine smooth muscles which results in effacement or progressive thinning of the
cervix, and dilation or widening of the cervix (see figure 2-1). This process culminates
with the expulsion of the fetus and expulsion of the other products of conception
(placenta and membranes) from the uterus.
Figure 2-1. Stages of effacement and dilatation.