The transition phase of labour

Transition is the time when your cervix dilates to about 9 to 10 centimetres. As your baby descends into your pelvis the hormone adrenaline is released into your system to give you energy to push your baby out.

What is happening

  • Cervix dilating to about 9cm to 10cm
  • Baby starts to descend
  • Bowel pressure
  • Increase in the hormone adrenalin
  • Fear, panic, self-doubt, not wanting to continue, an urge to flee
  • Urge to push

What to do

  • Allow your body to lead the way - you're close to meeting your baby

This increase in adrenaline can make you shake, vomit, feel hot and cold, or you may experience feelings of panic or distress. You may also feel an urge to empty your bowels or push.

The transition period can be a difficult time as you may experience fear, panic and feel like you aren't able to continue. Continue your breathing techniques and try to change positions to help you through this stage. Being well supported and encouraged through this period can also help you.

Not all women will go through the classic transition phase. Some women might just get hot and start to shake or vomit as their body starts to release large amounts of the hormone adrenaline into their body. It's common to feel out of control. You might start to cry or yell, or you might even feel the urge to have a sleep.

This is the time when you may be most inclined to ask for pain medication to get you through. Techniques such as distraction and a change of what's happening in your environment can help you get through this transition phase.

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