Congratulations! You have made it to the final stages of pregnancy and must be ready to meet your baby now. After getting into the first phase of labour, your water finally breaks, although it may require your doctor to break it in some instances. This signals the second phase of labour. This is usually characterised by the following:
- The cervix dilates to around 10cm.
- Contractions at an interval of 3-5 minutes, lasting at least 60-90 seconds.
- Strong pressure in bowel areas, which might lead to accidental poop or urination.
- Having a burning and stinging sensation just before crowning.
All along, the contractions the mother has been experiencing are as a result of the baby’s actions: positioning its head ready for the journey towards the vagina once fully dilated. When either the baby is in a breech position or the mother is not fully dilated, the midwife may recommend a caesarean birth.
The second phase involves the mother now taking over and finding a position that works for them. This can be sitting, standing or kneeling on all fours. Having a birth partner or dad around can help the mother by massaging the back and offering moral support. Whenever the contractions recur and there is an urge to push: Push! Rest when they disappear. If the mother has been given epidural anaesthetic, she might not feel the urge to push. The midwife will alert her when to push and when to rest. The ‘pushing and resting’ may last over three hours if it is the first baby but less if the mother has delivered before.
When the baby’s head is almost ready to come out, the midwife will request the mother to slow down and regain her breathe. This enables the baby’s head to slowly slide out while giving the vagina and anus muscles time to stretch. In case the baby’s head is unable to fully come out, the doctor might perform episiotomy to avoid an extreme tear. Once the baby’s head is out, the rest of the body follows soon after two or three contractions.
As a result of being soaked in amniotic fluid while in the womb, the baby will come out covered in the same. After the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, the nurses wipe, weigh and tag (for identification purposes) the baby. The mother can then have a skin-to-skin contact with the baby while breastfeeding.
Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
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Last reviewed March 2019