Labor and Delivery Step-by-Step Guide at Pregnancy & Baby Plus



What's happening

  • The cervix finishes dilating and begins making the transition from opening to pushing.
  • Contractions are now powerful and efficient, so this phase is usually quite short (less than one hour).
  • Some women feel nauseous or shaky, restless or irritable.

What helps

  • To keep from feeling overwhelmed, focus on one contraction at a time.
  • Continue with breathing, vocalization (if it helps) and rhythmic movement.
  • Even though rest periods are short, you can relax deeply during them and restore yourself.
  • Those providing labor support should offer close, undivided attention, gentle, unwavering encouragement and praise. If you're using a breathing pattern, your support should try "conducting" to help you focus, or should move with you in rhythm to your breathing.


What's happening

  • The baby makes its way down through the pelvis and birth canal.
  • This phase can last from 15 minutes to several hours.
  • Although it may take several contractions after full dilation to be noticeable, most women get an urge to bear down ‑- your body is giving you clear instructions about what to do. The urge to push usually gets stronger as the baby descends.
  • Many women feel more clearheaded and have a renewed sense of optimism when pushing begins. You will meet your baby soon!
  • Just before the baby is born, you may feel a burning, stinging, stretching sensation at the vaginal opening ‑- a sure sign that you're almost there!
  • As the baby's head emerges, it turns to one side to allow the shoulders to align, then the rest of the baby's body slips out.

What helps

  • The urge to push usually feels strongest at the peak of the contraction and then fades toward the end. Just follow along and do what feels right. For most, this means taking normal breaths as the contraction builds and then pushing when it becomes irresistible.
  • It may help to make sounds (much like athletes do) in response to what you're feeling.
  • Labor supporters should provide quiet, reassuring encouragement. There's no need for yelling.
  • If progress is slow, change positions. Upright (such as squatting), all fours and side pushing are all good options.
  • Let go of tension in your perineum. Warm compresses there may help you push.
  • Rest deeply between contractions ‑- pushing is hard work!
  • Some women find it helpful to watch in a mirror.

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