Birth itself takes place in three stages: cervical effacement and dilation, expulsion of the fetus, and expulsion of the placenta. The beginning of birth is usually marked by an ex­pulsion of the mucus plug from the cervix. This plug protects the fetus from any harm­ful bacteria that might enter the vagina during pregnancy. Sometimes women experi­ence “false labor,” in which contractions are irregular and do not dilate the cervix. In “real labor,” contractions will be regular and get closer together over time. In a typical birth process, the process is divided into three stages.