Stage One Labor- The Transition Phase*

Welcome to the final phase of Stage One Labor—Transition. A period that is known for its emotional challenges.

Transition 8-10cm

Transition is generally the shortest but most difficult phase of Stage 1 Labor and contractions will take the dilation of your cervix from approximately 8cm to completion (10cm).

Transition averages out at 20-40 minutes in length, descent is rapid, there may be copious bloody mucous.

You are stuck in the midst of a monumental hormonal rush that makes you feel angry, irritable, and desperate. You become nauseous, maybe even vomit, your body shakes. A sweaty trembling mess.

At this point you will feel intense almost overwhelming rectal pressure that comes from your baby’s head making its descent through the lower portion of your pelvis. Your contractions may briefly intensify as well, more often than not Transition is more intense than anything that preceded it.

It demands complete surrender.

Your contractions may be around 90 seconds long and 2 minutes apart, they may develop double peaks. As this shift occurs during your labor your body will be flooded with hormones leading to an extreme emotional response.

Transition phase is very emotionally challenging. Your rational mind is totally subsumed at this point. Very little of the outside world gets through. Suggestions barely register, decision making feels dreamlike. Your eyes are almost always closed.

You begin to make dramatic statements that reflect the enormity of the shift that is occurring inside of you, you begin to doubt your abilities, request pain medication, are done with the whole birth experience.

For all the intense difficult soul wrenching moments of transition it means that you are on the cusp of giving birth. The Catch 22 comes as your rational mind tries to re-engage briefly at this point. It needs reassurance knowledge that all is okay. It is okay to surrender.

You surrender into it with the sure knowledge that you will come out on the other side. Instead of fearing your body you need to trust it.

You may get a little respite once Stage One reaches completion, the best feature of labor is the rest periods that occur, not just between contractions, but there is generally a pause as your body regroups before moving on to Stage Two (pushing and crowning).

These pauses are seldom discussed but they are truly a brilliant feature. Savor and appreciate them and use them for all they are worth.

*The material for this post primarily comes from these Childbirth Physiology Sources.