Delivery And Childbirth
Stages 2 And 3 Of Childbirth

Giving birth


Delivery And Childbirth


Stage 2 Labor: Delivery Of Baby
Stage 3 Labor: Placenta Delivery

You have completed stage one of the stages of labor, the cervix is fully dilated and your baby is ready to be born. If you have a doula or labor coach, this is where they really start working with you.

Getting Ready For Birth
For an overview, see:
Childbirth Guide

Stage 2 Labor: Delivery Of Baby

What Happens During Delivery?

Considered the second stage of labor, delivery begins when the cervix is fully dilated and ends when the baby is born. Now that you are fully dilated, the only work remaining is for you to push! Contractions are still as frequent as the transition phase of labor, but usually become more regular, allowing some breathing space. You may be encouraged to push with each contraction to speed up the birth process. You may also experiment by trying different birthing positions, until you find something that feels natural. Some women prefer to sit, others may choose to squat or position themselves on all fours. Watching for the baby's crown emerging in a mirror, or feeling it with your hands may help keep your motivation going. Women planning a home birth or waterbirths tend to have more flexibility as some hospitals do not encourage too much moving around. Once the baby's head appears its nose and mouth may be sucked to remove mucus. Then the rest of the torso will be gently assisted out.

How Long Does It Last?

Typically about half an hour to an hour. However some women are fortunate enough to deliver within 10 minutes, and others can take up to 4 hours.

What Should I Do?

Push! Tuck your chin into your chest as this will help ensure the push comes from the right part of the body. If you are having problems, try changing positions. Avoid getting frustrated if the baby's head emerges and then disappears again, it can happen. Stop pushing if your midwife tells you, this can happen when the baby is appearing too rapidly. Rest between contractions. If you are planning a cesarean see C-section delivery.

What Does The Midwife Do?

During delivery your midwife will give you emotional support and experienced instruction. She will continue to monitor the baby's heartbeat with a Doppler or Fetal Heart Monitor. Drapes and pads will be laid under you and tools laid aside for final delivery.

What Will I Feel?

Unless you have received an epidural injection, you are likely to feel the following: Contraction pains, but possibly not as painful as the first transition phase of labor. An overwhelming urge to push in addition to some rectal pressure. As the baby's head emerges, you may feel a stretching and burning sensation at the vagina. This is known as the 'ring of fire'. As the baby emerges, you may feel slippery and wet.

What Happens When The Baby Is Born?

The umbilical cord is clamped and then cut by either the midwife or your labor coach. If you have organized cord blood collection, this will be done now (what is cord blood banking?). The baby will be placed on your belly, ready for some hugging and bonding. Then the midwife/pediatrician will take the baby and evaluate its health using the Apgar scale. The baby will be given a brisk rubdown, and identifying tags attached to its wrist and ankle. An eye ointment will be applied to fight infections and the baby is wrapped. The order in which this happens varies between hospitals and birthing centers.

Stage 3 Labor: Placenta Delivery

The final stage of childbirth, after delivery of the baby, is delivery of the placenta. The placenta was the baby's life support during pregnancy, and is now no longer needed. It detaches from the uterus and is expelled through the vagina. Your midwife will continue working with you to ensure that the placenta is delivered and any bleeding stemmed. Signs that the placenta is about to be expelled include, a sudden gush of blood, uterine cramping or mild contractions (which stop immediately after delivery but return again for placenta delivery).

How Long Does It Take?

This can happen within minutes of birth, or can take up to an hour.

What Does The Midwife Do?

Your midwife may assist the passage of the placenta by gently tugging on the umbilical cord, to which it is attached. She may also push down on your uterus and ask you to push at the same time. Sometimes an oxytocin injection (or via your IV if you have one) may be given to encourage contractions. Once the placenta emerges, the midwife will check it to ensure that it is intact. If fragments remain inside, you risk developing infections. Your midwife will also check to see if any repair work or stitches are required in the vaginal region. If you do require stitching, and are not already numb from an epidural, you may be given a local anesthetic by needle to the area that will be stitched. You may find you need to wear your maternity clothes for several weeks after giving birth, this will allow your body to recover without restriction. See: baby care after delivery for details on what happens to your new bundle of joy.

Interesting Labor Statistics: National Vital Statistics Report (2007)

• Number of Births in United States: 4,317,119
• Birth Rate: 14.3 per 1,000 population
• Fertility Rate: 69.5 births per 1000 women aged 15-44 years
• Percent Born Low Birth Weight: 8.2 percent
• Percent Unmarried: 39.7 percent


For more advice for pregnant women, see the following:

C-Section Recovery - Tips on how to recover after delivery.
Early Signs of Labor - Recognizing the signs of true labor.
Natural Labor Induction Methods
Kegels Exercise - Strengthening pelvic floor muscles for childbirth.

Back To Homepage: Womens Health Advice

Please Note: Information provided on this site is no substitute for professional medical help. See Disclaimer.
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