Transition!  Have you heard about THIS stage of labour?  It is where all the good stories come from.  This is usually the most difficult and intense and painful part of labour.  If you consider that your body is doing the same amount of physical change as the other stages (3-4 centimeters dilation), but it is accomplishing this in a fraction of the time.  Early labour (0-3 centimeters) can take anywhere from 6-24 hours.  Active labour (3-7 centimeters) usually takes around 3-8 hours.  But transition (7-10 centimeters) often only takes 1/2-2 hours long.  With that much progress has to come more intensity.   Just think Pain with a Purpose and you are now so close to meeting your little one.

Here is what to expect:


What is happening

  • Your cervix is continuing to open (dilate) from 7 centimeters to 10 centimeters (fully dilated).
  • Contractions are very intense
  • Contractions are continuing to get longer, stronger and closer together.
  • Contractions are 1 minute to 3 minutes apart and can last from 60 – 90 seconds long.
  • You can experience a double peak contraction, where one contraction does not quite finish before another one begins.
  • Pressure on vagina and rectum.
  • Possible urge to push and the pressure increases.
  • Nausea, vomiting.
  • Uncontrollable shaking.


Helping yourself

  • Take contractions one at a time.
  • Try to remember that transition is the most intense but the shortest part of labor.
  • Try to focus during contractions using breathing patterns, moaning or rhythmic rocking or swaying motion to distract away from pain. (refer to take charge routine)
  • Use visualization if possible.
  • Use massage or counter pressure if possible.
  • Change position as needed.  Comfort is most important to help with relaxation.
  • “Blowing out the candle” breathing if an urge to push begins.


How your partner can help

  • Know the signs of transition.
  • Encourage and reassure her.
  • Give clear instructions, although in the end it is better if you mimic what you want her to do.  Breath with her, rock with her, sway with her.
  • Remind her that transition is short.
  • Remind her that she is close to meeting baby.
  • Use the Take Charge Routine to help you through this stage.
  • Praise her.
  • Stay with her.
  • Maintain eye contact if she begins to fight the contractions.  Get her to focus.
  • Comfort her as best as you can.  Massage, counter pressure, hot compresses, cold cloth on her forehead if she is flushed, on the back of her neck if she is nauseated.
  • Hold her tight.