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If you are about to have a baby, you've no doubt heard a lot about giving birth. It's true that the process of going through labor can be exhausting and intense. However, your healthcare team will do everything possible to help you through it, such as extensive monitoring to help ensure the safety of both you and your baby. For example, as you begin labor, your cervix will be monitored regularly to see how dilated it is. The baby's heartbeat will also be monitored, as will your contractions.
 
When your cervix is dilated to four centimeters, you are said to be in "active labor." Once this stage of labor starts, you may receive an epidural if you choose. Labor usually intensifies and contractions become closer together when the cervix is dilated to 10 centimeters. When the baby has moved into the birthing canal, you will probably need to push through the contractions to help the delivery process.
 
(Click Labor and Delivery for a more in-depth description of the birth process. This article talks in greater detail about what to expect, when medications might be necessary, and more.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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