Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Labor and Delivery - Stages of Labor

    Transition

    The end of active labor is called the transition phase. As the baby moves down, your contractions become more intense and longer and come even closer together.

    When you reach transition, your delivery isn't far off. During transition, you will be self-absorbed, concentrating on what your body is doing. You may be annoyed or distracted by others' attempts to help you but still feel you need them nearby as a support. You may feel increasingly anxious, nauseated, exhausted, irritable, or frightened.

    A mother in first-time labor will take up to 3 hours in transition, and a mother who has vaginally delivered before will usually take no more than an hour. Some women have a very short, if intense, transition phase.

    Stage two: The baby is born

    The second stage is the actual birth, when the baby is pushed out by the contractions. This pushing stage can be as short as a few minutes or as long as several hours. You are more likely to have a fast labor if you have given birth before. During the second stage:

    • Uterine contractions will feel different. Though they are usually regular, they may slow down to every 2 to 5 minutes, lasting 60 to 90 seconds. If your labor stalls, changing positions may help. If not, your doctor may recommend using medicine to stimulate (augment) contractions.
    • You may have a strong urge to push or bear down with each contraction.
    • You may need to change position several times to find the right birthing position for you.
    • You can have a mirror positioned so you can watch your baby as the head comes through the vagina (called crowning).
    • When the baby's head crowns, you will feel a burning pain. If this is happening quickly, your doctor may advise you not to push every time, which may give the perineum, which is the area between the vulva and the anus, a chance to stretch without tearing.

    Your medical staff will be ready to handle anything unexpected. This is a time when your doctor or nurse-midwife will be deciding what is best for you and your baby.

    1 | 2 | 3
    Next Article:

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow