Read The First Stage of Labor to understand this better.
The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is completely open ie: 10 cms dilated and ends with the birth of the baby. You will experience intense contractions which will help push the baby down through the birth canal. You will feel intense pressure which is similar to passing a bowel movement.
Take it easy
Your doctor will guide you when to push but some things to keep in mind are - the baby will move down when the cervix is completely open and that when you feel a contraction and there is a strong urge to push. In the absence of any of these parameters, the baby will not descend and you will waste valuable energy.
There may be a time when there may be a pause in your labor as the body rests after transition and then resumes its contractions. Take it easy and rest at this time.
Most first time moms can take about 30 minutes to an hour of pushing while a second time mom can take about 15 minutes. Pushing also depends on the position and size of the baby. Although the contractions are very intense and you need to focus, this stage is much more manageable than the first stage of labor.
Focus is key
It is of course shorter and there is a focus and target to achieve which is pushing the baby. When you can see the finishing line, it is much more easier to cope with the contractions. Even though the contractions may now come every couple of minutes and last for 60-90 seconds it is natural for you to, at times fall asleep in between the contractions for a few seconds.
Upright and squatting positions are the best pushing positions. Discuss the same with your doctor as this will give you the advantage of gravity as well as have your pelvis as wide as possible. If the baby is in a difficult position but is really low the doctor may use a forceps or ventouse to deliver the baby. These are safe options if used correctly. It is important for you to relax and support the process by pushing with a contraction. If you get tensed, additional pressure will be needed to deliver the baby. So have your beloved ones by your side, especially husband, and feel loved!
As the baby’s head appears. the doctor will judge if the perineum is elastic enough or else will perform a small incision known as an episiotomy. This is done to widen the area and allows the birth to happen without the mother tearing in all sorts of places which may be difficult to repair.
The Final Push
The baby’s head will crown with the baby being in the face down position, then with the next contraction the baby will automatically turn as this will allow the baby to deliver one shoulder at a time. Once the shoulders are delivered, the rest of the baby just slips out.
The doctor will wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating and if you have opted for stem cell banking this is the time that the cord blood is collected. The cord is clamped at both ends and then cut. If the baby’s father would like to have the honor of cutting the cord then this is also something that you should discuss with your gynaecologist in advance.
Happy birthing! Remember, the mantra is to be stress free and to enjoy the experience!
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