In my course, I teach a different model of labor than the one that is taught almost every where else. It has been my experience that the stages model of labor is not based on good theory or research and does not accurately describe how labor truly works.
Instead, I present a different model of labor. I’ve outlined the major differences below. So, while I may still refer to stages in posts, I do so only because it is how labor is understood by most women and care providers. I do not, however, believe it is an accurate way to describe labor.
Stages of Labor
Labor contains distinct stages.
“True” labor is defined by cervical dilation.
Labor is characterized by a steady increase in
Labor and birth can be predicted by how far
dilated a mother is and how often they are
Your body should follow the curve regardless of
Cervical dilation gives you the ability to
determine when a woman should deliver.
A pathologic labor is one in which it is not
dilating at a specific speed.
All women follow the same pattern.
Progressive Model of Labor
Labor has very indistinct starts and stops.
Cervical dilation is only one of the signs of
Labor is characterized by plateaus and hills of
Labor and birth are unpredictable
Emotional aspects play a role in the ability to
Specific signs (including cervical dilation) are an
indicator of progress, though cannot determine the
length of labor.
A pathologic labor is one in which either mother
or baby is in distress.
Each woman has a unique labor pattern.