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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
1. Very strong pressure in your lower back.
One of the early signs of labor is a strong pressure in your lower back. You might feel as though you’re carrying a heavy load, and the weight is concentrated in your back. This pressure is a result of your baby’s head pressing down on your pelvis as they prepare to make their grand entrance into the world.
2. A lot of rectal pressure.
Along with lower back pressure, you may also experience rectal pressure. This pressure is a result of your baby’s head pressing against your rectum, which can cause discomfort and a strong urge to pass a bowel movement. If you experience this symptom, it’s essential to communicate with your doctor or midwife to rule out any potential complications.
3. An increase of bloody show.
As your body prepares for labor, you may notice an increase in bloody show. This is when your mucus plug dislodges and passes through your vagina. The mucus plug is a thick substance that seals the opening of your cervix during pregnancy. The increase in bloody show is a sign that your cervix is dilating, and labor is approaching.
4. Feeling very warm or sweaty or the other extreme, chilled and shaky.
During labor, it’s common to experience fluctuations in body temperature. You might feel warm and sweaty, or you might feel the opposite, chilled and shaky. These fluctuations are a result of hormonal changes and are entirely normal. However, it’s crucial to monitor your temperature and communicate any significant changes with your doctor or midwife.
5. Legs that will shake uncontrollably.
During labor, you might experience uncontrollable shaking in your legs. This is a result of hormonal changes and is entirely normal. However, if the shaking becomes severe or if you’re concerned, it’s essential to communicate with your healthcare provider.
6. Nausea and/or vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of labor, and they can occur as a result of hormonal changes and the body’s response to pain. If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial to stay hydrated and communicate with your doctor or midwife.
7. Drowsiness in between contractions.
It’s normal to feel drowsy in between contractions during labor. Your body is working hard to prepare for your baby’s arrival, and it’s essential to rest when you can. However, if you experience excessive drowsiness or feel concerned, it’s crucial to communicate with your healthcare provider.
Labor can be a long and tiring process, and it’s common to experience exhaustion. If you feel too exhausted to continue, it’s essential to communicate with your healthcare provider and discuss options for pain relief and rest.
During labor, you might experience feelings of disorientation. This is a result of hormonal changes and is entirely normal. However, if you feel excessively disoriented or confused, it’s crucial to communicate with your healthcare provider.
Labor can be an emotional time, and it’s common to experience feelings of self-doubt. It’s essential to communicate with your healthcare provider and loved ones for emotional support and guidance.
Transition Phase of Labor
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.
Doubts and Medication Options
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.
The Benefits of Warm Water During 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.
The Feeling of Pushing During Transition
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.
Advocating for Your Birth Plan
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.
Communicating Your Needs During Transition
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.