What Happens During This Stage Of Labor
My friend just had a baby, and she told me transition was the shortest but also the hardest part. I didn't know what she meant, but didn't want to interrupt her to ask what that was. So what is transition, how will I know when I'm experiencing it? - Daphne, Michigan
The expert answers
Transition is the phase of labor just before the pushing stage. At about 6 or 7 centimeters of dilation, some of the symptoms of "transition" appear. During transition, contractions become very strong, and often their duration and frequency are less predictable.
At this stage of labor, the laboring woman may feel confused or even unable to cope at all. Legs and arms may tremble uncontrollably. Belching, hiccuping, feeling nauseated or even vomiting may occur. Most women recall feeling irritable and often become astonishingly rude. The coach will need to be particularly attentive and encouraging at a time when it is not going to be too rewarding to do so. The extreme changes in body temperature will require the obvious treatment of either adding or removing blankets.
Toward the end of this accelerated phase, but often before the cervix is fully dilated, the laboring women may feel the urge to push (or what feels like the need for a bowel movement). A couple of these signs, but especially the urge to push, often indicate transition.
If no examination has taken place within the preceding half hour, the nurse should be notified of the changes. Even if it has been less than the thirty minutes and the urge to push is strong, immediately notify the attending person of this sensation. The coach's presence is most helpful during this difficult time.