The Second Stage of Labour
The second stage of labour is when the hard work really does begin.
However, it is exciting, exhausting and sometimes exhilarating towards meeting your baby for the first time.
In this phase, the cervix is fully dilated and it ends with the birth of the baby.
The contractions are very intense and may occur every 2-4 minutes. With each contraction, the urge to push is felt. As the head presses on the perineum and the vaginal tissue open out, a burning sensation will develop as the skin stretches to its maximum.
Continue to push gently as the baby crowns, to allow a gentle stretching and easing of the skin over the baby’s face.
Your midwife will tell you when your baby’s head starts to appear. When the head appears it is known as “crowning”.
1. The first outward sign that the baby is ready to be born is a bulge on the perineum made by the baby’s head.
2. More and more of the head appears at the vaginal opening with each contraction. The midwife will tell you to pant and stop pushing so that the skin and muscles of your vagina and perineum are given a chance to stretch slowly, minimizing the risk of tearing or the need for an episiotomy.
3. You must stop to bear down when the head is delivered while the midwife checks that the cord is not twisted around the baby’s neck. She will clean the nasal passages, mouth and eyes. Most of the hard work is over, and it now usually takes only one more push for your baby to be born.
4. The next contraction will deliver the shoulders and after this the rest of the body slides out. He will now be handed over to you.
The 3rd Stage Of Labour
Your labour is not quite over when your baby is born because there is still the placenta to deliver. This is known as the third stage, and can happen naturally or be induced with an injection. For many women, this stage passes largely unnoticed as they are usually overwhelmed at the sight of their new babies.
During this stage, the placenta peels off the uterine wall and slips down the vagina. The placenta and membranes will be examined by your caregivers to make sure they are complete.