Process of bringing forth a child from the uterus, ending pregnancy. It has three stages. In dilation, uterine contractions lasting about 40 seconds begin 20–30 minutes apart and progress to severe labour pains about every 3 minutes. The opening of the cervix widens as contractions push the fetus. Dilation averages 13–14 hours in first-time mothers, less if a woman has had previous babies. When the cervix dilates fully, expulsion begins. The “water” (amniotic sac) breaks (if it has not already), and the woman may actively push. Expulsion lasts 1–2 hours or less. Normally, the baby's head emerges first; other positions make birth more difficult and risky. In the third stage, the placenta is expelled, usually within 15 minutes. Within six to eight weeks, the mother's reproductive system returns to nearly the prepregnancy state. See also cesarean section; lactation; midwifery; miscarriage; natural childbirth; obstetrics and gynecology; premature birth.


parturition or birth or childbirth or labour or delivery

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