The transition phase, or advanced, is the final stage of active labor, the most difficult phase of labor and also the shortest phase of labor. Transition means your body is “transitioning” from opening your cervix to the baby working its way down the birth canal. The transition phase of labor comes right after the early active stages of labor and is when the intensity of your contractions becomes worse. Your contractions during this phase may be between 60 to 90 seconds long and you may not have much of a break in between contractions.
The 10 Common Signs of the Transition Phase of Labor
- Very strong pressure in your lower back.
- A lot of rectal pressure.
- An increase of bloody show.
- Feeling very warm or sweaty or the other extreme, chilled and shaky.
- Legs that will shake uncontrollably.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Drowsiness in between contractions.
During the transition phase of labor, a lot of women are not “coherent”. This means they are so exhausted, disoriented, frustrated and ready to be done that they do not really understand what is going on besides just getting the baby out. During transition, your cervix will dilate from 7 to 10 centimeters. At this time, when your cervix is fully dilated to 10 centimeters it will be time to push.
A lot of women become doubtful that they will not be able to continue labor without medications. The transition phase is also commonly referred to as the “I can’t” time. Usually, at this period of time, it is too late to administer an epidural. There are some medications available to be used such as “laughing gas”. With much support and refocusing, birthing women will make it through just fine. It is important to look forward to the rest period, so you can rest and have as much energy as possible for pushing.
Your doula and partner are going to be your biggest support system and advocates during this phase. You may not want to continue your breathing techniques or visualizations, but your doula and/or partner will help keep you on track. Sometimes, the way a woman acts in the transition stage of labor may scare their partners, because it is a total out of mind and body experience. As a partner, when your wife is in the transition phase, it is helpful to be positive, offer ice chips, remind changing positions, place a cool washcloth of the forehead, and not to leave her side.
Focus on Your Breathing Using Techniques
- HypnoBirthing has become a more popular way to stay calm and focused during childbirth. It is a calm and natural way for the mother to connect deeply through hypnotic relaxation techniques.
- The Bradley Method teaches natural childbirth. The Bradley Method believes that if mother is educated and prepared properly, they can give birth naturally.
- The Lamaze Method is a classic birthing preparation that has been around for years. This method focuses mainly on breathing methods to help with pain during child labor.
Sometimes, getting into a hot or warm tub of water may help ease any pain and discomfort also. This is why a lot of women, years ago and becoming more common today, like to birth in a tub. The water and heat takes some of the discomfort away. Although, you may get very hot, and that is why a fan or cool washcloths on your forehead is comforting.
By the end of transition, which can last approximately 30 minutes, a lot of women have the feeling to push. Your baby has probably descended down the birth canal into the pelvis region. Due to your baby being in the pelvis region, you may feel rectal pressure, which leads to women wanting to push. Women begin to bear down making grunting sounds, to help push the baby out. Luckily, women describe pushing as a relief from all the pressure that has built up.
Make sure you speak up! Sometimes providers may suggest interventions you may have said you did not want in your birth plan. It is important that your doula and/or partner are there to remind you of what you want and do not want and advocate for you. It is also always okay to change your mind. Getting on your hands and knees, cold compresses, encouragement, and keeping calm will all help through the transition phase of labor.
During the transition phase, you may feel more touchy and do not want people touching you or massaging you. If you do not want to be touched or massaged, feel the urge to push or anything else, make sure you make it known. Once you have hit this stage, it is only a matter of minutes that you will be meeting your newborn.