Guide to Birth: Active Labor Thru Transitionby Elizabeth MacDonald
Following the early stage of labor, your contractions become more intense and closer together. This is what is known as active labor.
Contractions: 5 minutes apart, lasting around 60 seconds and intensifying.
Call your birth team once active labor has been consistent for an hour or so. No need to rush anywhere yet, but let them know you are progressing.
“This is it,” becomes your thought process. You know you are in labor and that your baby will be here (relatively) soon. You will be working harder through the contractions at this point and may find one or two positions that work really well to handle the waves of tightness.
Walking is still important, and you should be able to move and interact with others normally in between the contractions. Continue snacking and drinking fluids, and make sure to urinate often, as your full bladder can prolong labor. You will feel increasing pressure and fullness in your pelvis, your back may ache, and a general crampy feeling may occur.
Sitting on a yoga/birth ball and rocking it on out may help! The pelvis will be stretching and pulling, rocking will help. Stay distracted in between contractions, there may be quite a journey ahead of you.
Contractions will become more intense and come closer together. As you enter late first stage of labor, you will become very serious and start losing your modesty. Your movements will become slower and more deliberate. A lot of women feel the need to lie down and build a “nest” – a quiet, cool, dark, comfortable place and ride out the intensity of the waves.
Close your eyes and mimic sleep. Breathe and use your relaxation techniques (that you have been practicing throughout your pregnancy). Your partner should be supporting you in any way possible: back rub, music, etc.
Head to your place of birth.
Late into this stage, you no longer will want to eat or even talk much. If asked to take a picture, you will most likely shake your head and moan. This is the best time to head to your birth place, especially if you are aiming for an unmedicated birth. Right about now is when most women’s water breaks. But have no fear, it is normal for it to break at ANY time of labor – or not to break at all and have a lucky baby born in the caul!
Contractions: Irregular, double peaking, intense, all encompassing.
Inevitably, you will doubt your capability.
Welcome to transition.
This is the point of labor when contractions become so intense that unprepared women beg for drugs. But if you are prepared and know what to expect, and know that transition is typically the shortest part of labor, you will give in to the contractions and allow your body to bring baby into his final descent before birth.
The toilet is a glorious place to transition. The cool porcelain and open seat just work so well during this stage. Most midwives will work to get you to the bathroom for transition (you probably won’t even realize this).
Transition is animalistic and raw, real and emotional, painful and all encompassing. You can and will make it through.