How to Handle the Transition Stage of Labor
Labor is broken up into four stages: early, active, transition and pushing. Transition is the shortest phase, but often the most challenging phase of labor for most women. Powerful contractions change the cervix from 7 centimeters to 10 centimeters during this short time.
Contractions typically come every 1 to 3 minutes and last 60 and 90 seconds long. Here are some suggestions as to how to get through the transition phase of labor.
9 Steps to Handle the Transition Stage of Labor
1. Encourage Mom through the contractions.
This is the point where many mothers want to give up or want pain medication. Use words and pictures to encourage Mom that it is almost over. Help her focus on the positive power of the contractions instead of the pain that it is causing.
2. Remind her that she only has to take one contraction at a time and that she will get breaks in between them.
When she is in a break, remind her to focus on the pain-free sensations of her uterus.
3. Breathe with her.
You can try patterned breathing or focused breathing. When the contraction is over, remind her to slow down her breathing and focus again on her quiet uterus muscle.
4. Apply counter pressure if she feels extreme lower back pain.
During transition, the baby’s head moves farther down into the pelvis and sometimes causes extreme pain. Counter pressure with a fist or tennis balls can relieve some of the pressure.
5. Get close to Mom.
During transition, moms need continuous support. She often needs to feel protected and loved. This is best done through hugs, encouraging words and just staying close and connected with her.
6. Help her to rest between the contractions.
When they are over, remind her that it is over–she may honestly forget since the contractions come so close. Encourage her to relax and even take a cat nap between contractions when possible.
7. During transition, moms are continuously hot and cold.
Have a hot rice sock and a cool cloth on hand in case she needs one of them. If she is using a birthing pool, she will need the cool cloth more often.
8. Keep her lips moist with chapstick.
If she uses breathing techniques to get her through transition, her lips will probably get chapped. Having ice or chapstick nearby will help immensely with dry lips.
9. Tell her how wonderful she is doing, how proud you are of her and that you love her.
More than anything, powerful and supportive words coming from a partner are the best form of support. When moms have good support in labor, they go much further and generally have a better birth experience.
Tips and Warnings
- Stay strong. Transition is emotionally and physically challenging.
- If Mom has had a baby before, she may already know certain things that she likes or dislikes during the transition phase. Talk about this before she goes into labor.
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