For many women, three months into pregnancy, the start of labor is the most obvious stage. It’s a big milestone, and for some women, it comes at a fairly quick pace.
But not everyone gets a speedy journey to the hospital and pushes an infant out of their gut like a gymnast. For some women, the labor process can stretch on.
Physician Genevieve Behrman is a gynecologist, a mother, and a woman who knows the difficulties many new mothers encounter throughout their pregnancies. Two years ago, she co-wrote a paper, published in “Pediatrics,” about the stages of pregnancy: from conception to birth.
Babies born during pregnancy emerge as one lump, with a whole head and long arms, she explained in an interview with The Atlantic. Then they breathe in. They need help to open their mouths and cry. They may need help moving into the arms of their mother for any kind of support or aid, she noted. Eventually they will feed themselves, then develop such strong muscle control that they can pick up their bottle and take a good solid drink of milk. Then they will move on, and learn to walk.
The phases of pregnancy, she said, are important because they provide an opportunity for women to gain tools and strategies to help them navigate the pregnancy process and the growing infant.
“There’s a lot of mystery and shock at first about this new stage,” Dr. Behrman said.
“I think for people who’ve never gone through it or maybe haven’t experienced it before, it’s daunting. It’s a new world for these women.”
The chronological transition happens in the range of four to six weeks, Dr. Behrman said. And sometimes the transition can stretch on, sometimes as long as a month.
“I really had been surprised at how much gestation takes. Because women who haven’t gone through it before say, ‘it just seems so long,’ and I think most of us think of the period of gestation as 18 or 20 weeks, but it’s actually 11 weeks. That’s part of it,” she said.