How to know when you're in active labour
During this stage of labour your contractions are regular and occurring every two to three minutes. They will last for about one minute and your cervix will open to about 10 centimetres.
Your body releases natural hormones called endorphins (natural pain relief), which will help to take the edge off the intensity of your contractions. Your levels of oxytocin also increase which makes your contractions more intense. At this stage, you will be very consumed with and focused on your labour.
This is the time to go to hospital or have your midwife present if you're planning a home birth.
Having a bath or shower (if you waters have broken) can help ease discomfort and help you relax. Drink plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated and make sure you empty your bladder regularly. You might feel spaced out due to high levels of hormones in your system so make sure you rest in between contractions and keep your body as limp and relaxed as possible to assist your body.
In active labor, you'll find that your contractions are very intense, they're close together, and there's a shorter rest in between. You will become very focused on what your body is doing and working through each contraction.
During this time you might feel your endorphins kicking in which can make you look spaced out and sleepy. This is your body's way of giving you that extra help to work through these stronger contractions.
During this active stage you need lots of privacy. Feeling that you are being observed during labor can cause your body to shut down. Privacy will allow you to release and let go.