Early labor - the cervix is dilated 0-3 cms. and 80-100% effaced. Contractions occur 5-20 minutes, last 30-45 seconds, mild in strength. Parent's are usually excited, relieved that labor is here and may feel apprehensive, confident, and talkative. Dads can help by offering support, helping mom relax, encourage mom to rest between contractions.
Active Labor - cervix is dilated 4-7 cms. and is 100% effaced. Contractions occur every 3-5 minutes, last 45-60 seconds, are moderate. Parents are more serious, get down to the "work" of labor. They may not tolerate distractions and may doubt their ability to get through labor. Dads can help by encouraging mom to change position every ½ hour, offer ice chips, cool clothes, suggest a shower/whirlpool. Help mom relax and offer support.
Transition Labor - cervix dilates 7-10 cms. and is completely effaced. Contractions occur every 2-3 minutes, last 60-90 seconds, are strong. Mom will show the most intense response to contractions-nausea, hot/cold flashes, trembling, dependency, and urge to push. Dads can help by helping mom find a position of comfort, provide back rubs, counter pressure, let her know you love her.