Parent Time

The Second Stage of Labour

(Pushing; and Then More Pushing)

AThe second stage of labor is when everyone goes into action, including you. After waiting around for hours and hours, you finally have a job to do as your baby movies into the birth canal and you experience an insistent urge to "get it out". With your cervix fully dilated and every instinct telling you to push, your body will help things along by sending you Ultimate Contractions of about 60 seconds in duration and two or three minutes apart in frequency. Your midwife of doctor will help you along and tell you when pushing is a good idea.

(Sometimes the urge to push comes a little early, before the cervix is fully dilated. Remember every movie you ever saw where a woman gives birth? She declares, "I want to push!" and the doctor invariably orders her, "Don't push!" Then, about three seconds later, he says, "Okay, push." And a baby is born. All I can figure out is that he hasn't gotten his gloves on yet, and wants to roll up his cuffs. Anyway, sometimes the urge to push appears a bit before your body and the baby are ready and positioned correctly, in which case, your midwife or doctor will ask you to hold off for a bit.)

The second stage of labor usually takes a couple of hours for new moms; women who have already had children may shorten that time somewhat. After all, they've paid their dues and should be able to get out a little earlier than a mere novice, right?

With the contractions and pushing, the baby is moved along the birth canal until finally Baby's head shows. This is called "crowning" because you can see the crown of Baby's head (well, in the mirror, anyway) and it means your labor is practically finished. You will feel your vagina stretching splendidly as the baby moves out. If your baby is big or your body small, your doctor may have done an episiotomy before the baby makes an entrance. In an episiotomy, the doctor injects a local anesthetic and widens the vaginal opening surgically, which prevents the vagina from tearing when the baby's head is larger than your vgina can stretch on its own. Once the baby is born, the doctor puts in a few stitches to return the vagina to its usual width. With the classic final push, the baby slides out and you feel a great sense of relief. But that's not all! Now that your baby is born, this brings us to:

Stages of Labor Sections of Interest

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