2nd Stage Labour
During the second stage of labour your will push your baby out. Second stage begins with full dilation and ends with the birth of your baby. This stage can last from a few minutes to two or three hours.
What is happening?
- You will have a vaginal examination to be sure you are fully dilated. If you push too soon the cervix can become swollen and difficult to open further.
- Once your cervix is fully open, your baby is pushed out.
- If your water (amniotic sac) has not broken already if may be broken to help you along.
- Your baby’s head pushes against your perineum.
- The fetal heart rate will be checked every 5 minutes or after every contraction.
- Your baby’s head is usually facing your spine.
- As your baby’s head first emerges, it will slip back into your vagina between contractions.
- Your vagina stretches to allow your baby to pass through.
- Your perineum may not tear at all or you may have a small tear.
- You may have an episiotomy (cut in the perineum) to allow more room for your baby’s head.
- As your baby’s head crowns your may be asked to stop pushing.
- When your baby’s head is out, it is usually face down but will turn to one side. Mucus in the baby’s nose and mouth may be suctioned out. With the next contraction your baby’s shoulders and body will come out.
What might you be feeling?
- Contractions will be powerful. They will come about every 2‑3 minutes and last 60‑90 seconds.
- You may feel a strong urge to push.
- You may go through a short time with no contractions and no urge to push.
- You will have a splitting and burning feeling on your perineum or vagina as they stretch.
- You may feel surprised, overwhelmed or frightened by the pushing sensation.
What can you and your support person do?
- Breathe deeply.
- Relax your bottom and go with the urge to push.
- If you feel better grunting with contractions and giving small pushes, go with this urge.
- Use the same muscles to push that you would use for a bowel movement.
- Drop your chin towards your chest and relax your tongue.
- Change positions as needed for comfort and to assist your baby in passing through the birth canal (try semi‑sitting, squatting, kneeling or side‑lying). Support people can help hold your legs, or support you as you squat.
- Continue with relaxation technique between contractions. To find out how, click here.
- Listen to your body and use the breathing techniques you practiced. To find out how, click here.
- If you are asked to stop pushing, use the panting breathing technique.