Stages of Childbirth

  • Give your undivided attention
  • Offer verbal reassurance and encouragement
  • Massage her abdomen and lower back
  • Keep track of contractions (if she is hooked up to a monitor ask how it works)
  • Go through the breathing techniques with her
  • Help make her comfortable (prop pillows, get her water, apply touch)
  • Remind her to change positions frequently (take her for a walk or offer her a bath)
  • Continue with distractions (music, reading a book, playing a simple card game)
  • Don't feel bad if she is not responding to you

Transition Phase

What to do:
During this phase you will rely heavily on your support person. This is the hardest phase to go through but you are almost to the end. Think "one contraction at a time." This may be hard to do if the contractions are running together, but just think about how far you have come. When you feel an urge to push, wait until you are instructed to. Forget that this is the hardest phase and remember that it is the shortest.

What to expect:

  • Duration will last about 30 min-2 hrs
  • Your cervix will dilate from 7cm to 10cm
  • Contractions during this phase will last about 60-90 seconds with a 30 second-2 minute rest in between
  • Contractions are long, strong, intense, and may overlap
  • This is the hardest phase but thankfully the shortest
  • You may experience hot flashes, chills, shaking, nausea, vomiting, or gas

Tips for the support person:

  • Offer lots of encouragement and praise
  • Cut out the small talk
  • Continue breathing with her
  • Help guide her through her contractions with encouragement
  • Encourage her to relax in between contractions
  • Don't feel hurt if she seems to have really strong anger toward you, it's just a phase she is going through!

Second Stage

The second stage of childbirth is pushing and delivery of your baby. Up until this point your body has been doing all the work for you. Now that your cervix has fully dilated to 10 cm it is time for your help. Time to PUSH!

Pushing and what to expect:

  • The entire process of the second stage lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours
  • Contractions will last about 45-90 seconds with a 3-5 minute rest in between
  • You will have a strong natural urge to push
  • You will feel strong pressure at your rectum
  • Most likely you will have a slight bowel or urination accident but don't be embarrassed
  • Your baby's head will eventually crown (become visible)
  • You will feel a burning, stinging sensation during crowning
  • During crowning you will be instructed by your healthcare provider not push

Pushing and what to do:

  • Get into a pushing position (one that uses gravity to your advantage)
  • Push when you feel the urge, unless told otherwise
  • Relax your pelvic floor and anal area (Kegel exercises can help)
  • Rest between contractions so you can regain your strength
  • Use a mirror so you can see your progress (this can be very encouraging!)
  • Use all your energy to push
  • Do not feel discouraged if your baby's head poked out and then goes back in (this process can take two steps forward and then one step back)

Tips for the support person:

  • Help her to be relaxed and comfortable (give her ice chips if you can and support her in her position)
  • Encourage, encourage, encourage
  • Be her guide through her contractions
  • Affirm what a great job she has done and is doing
  • Don't feel bad if she tells you to shut up or some other unexpected remark

What your baby is doing:
While you are in labor your baby is taking steps to enter this world

1. Your baby's head will turn to one side and the chin will automatically rest on the chest so the back of the head can lead the way. Once you are fully dilated

2. Once you are fully dilated, your baby's head leads the way and the head and torso begin to turn to face your back as they enter your vagina.

3. Next you will begin to see your baby's head, this is known as crowning.