Labor and Birth Stage 2: The Birth

Your Baby’s Birth

  • Once your cervix is fully dilated, you can begin to push. This stage of labor usually lasts one to two hours, but can range from two minutes to three hours. Most women have a strong urge to push, although some women may not feel this urge right away.
  • Usually, your contractions will be less painful and spaced further apart, allowing you more time to rest between them. Follow your body's urges as to when to push; however, your health care provider can help you if the sensation is not very strong. Sometimes it’s important to push the baby out slowly, which helps prevent the perineum (the tissue between the vagina and anus) from tearing.
  • The perineum stretches as the baby presses against it and moves through. When the perineum stretches you will probably feel a burning sensation, which quickly passes. This occurs to protect the tissues from tearing if you push too hard. When the baby’s head “crowns” that means it appears at the opening of the birth canal. Crowning is a gradual process, with the head moving downward a little with each contraction, then slipping back slightly between contractions. If your health care provider determines that there is not enough room for the baby to pass through, she may try different techniques to enlarge the opening. These include hot compresses, perineal massage, and if really necessary, your health care provider may perform an episiotomy, a small cut made at the bottom of the vagina.
  • Once the head fully crowns, it comes out of the vagina completely. The shoulders then turn and pass through, and the rest of the baby's body slips out easily.

Continue to "Labor Stage 3: Birth of the Placenta" journey to parenthood

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010