Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox. And the weather seems to have taken a drastic wintry turn with perfect timing. Cue bedsocks, hot water bottles, candles and woolly jumpers – yes please!
This is my FAVOURITE time of the year. I love all things cosy, and there’s more of an acceptance to “bunker down”, “slow down” and do less. I also love the huge contrast between outdoors (fresh, wild, invigorating) and the warmth of indoors.
Autumn is all about CHANGE and this season is a wonderful reminder of not only how amazing and much needed a change can be, but also that nothing is static. Life is always changing and moving forwards.
When it comes to labour, this is what I tell my clients: you are always moving forwards. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. And that there may be times when it seems nothing is moving forwards. I reassure them that every single surge will be moving them a tiny step closer to meeting their baby.
The stage of labour marking the greatest change (seamless link?!) is called Transition…this word literally meaning change / changeover / shift / move on.
And the changes that are happening?
1. You are moving from breathing through your surges to pushing through them
2. Your baby is moving down from your uterus to your vagina.
These changes don’t happen instantly i.e. it’s not usually the case that with one surge you’re breathing, then next surge you start pushing. The need to push builds up over time, and it all happens in transition. Think of it like an overlap period.
During this stage, you are almost fully dilated. That means, if (remember, you always have a choice) someone was to examine your cervix, you would be about 8- 9cm open.
I don’t like time limits but, as a guide, transition generally lasts between 10 minutes and one hour. For this short stage, the breaks between the surges (the rest periods) get shorter. Where you will have been enjoying 3 minute rest periods before transition, this reduces to about a 1 minute rest before the next surge starts. So, in transition it might feel like the surges are one after the other with little time for rest in between. This is literally mother nature giving you a push (terrible pun I know) forward, making things quicker for you.
You might feel hot/cold during this stage, a bit fidgety or a bit “shaky”. This is because mother nature gives you a big dose of adrenaline in transition. Basically, to wake you up and get you alert ready for giving birth.
For most women, the waters release (“break”) during this stage, but of course they can go at any point in labour, or before labour begins as a sign that labour is on it way. They may release with a gush or a trickle and will most likely keep flowing out of you for the remainder of your labour – especially when your uterus is surging and therefore pushing a bit of the waters out each time. At whatever point the waters release, the surges can then feel more intense as the pressure between the baby’s head and the cervix is increased (this is because there is less water to “buffer” the pressure of baby’s head pressing down).
You will start to get feelings of wanting to push building up. This is because baby’s head is so low now that it starts to press more and more on your pelvic floor muscles sending the message to your brain to push. As you have more and more surges in transition, baby moves lower still, so the urge to push builds up over time moving from a feeling of heavy pressure (think about when you first feel like you need a poo; it feels a bit like this), then it gets stronger and stronger still – until you can’t control it and cannot resist the urge to push. The sensation of wanting to push is strongest during the peak of the surge when baby is getting the biggest squeeze against your pelvic floor. This is normal. Don’t be surprised if you *only* push at the peak of the surge rather than during the whole surge.
So, there’s quite a lot going on in this stage that you and your birth partner can look for:
– Surges with shorter rest periods than before.
– Adrenaline release making you enlivened & invigorated (it’s why we’re my business is call Lionheart!).
– You might get shaky legs and feel hot and cold.
– If they’ve not already gone, your waters might release as either a gush or a trickle.
– Urges to push begin as a feeling of “heaviness” and “pressure” in the body before getting stronger.