The second stage of labor begins with the complete dilation of the cervix and ends with the birth of the baby.
During this stage, the baby descends through the pelvis and enters the outside world. This work is accomplished by contractions of the uterus and is aided by your voluntary pushing efforts. This stage gave the name “labor” to the birthing process.
It is common to experience the sensation of fullness in the vagina and pressure in the rectum during this stage, but the urge to push seems to vary from one woman to another. During your prenatal classes, you will be taught to push from a variety of positions including semi-reclining, lying on your side, kneeling, and squatting. You should use the position that is most comfortable and most effective for you. As you push with your abdominal muscles during the contraction, it is important to allow the perineum to relax. You should also relax completely between contractions so that you can refresh yourself.
Crowning refers to the baby’s head appearing at the vaginal opening. When crowning occurs, preparations are made for delivery.
If you are using a birthing room, the bed will be made ready for delivery, and necessary equipment will be brought into the room. You will find that the birthing bed provides you with a variety of options for positions during delivery. Choose one that is most comfortable for you.
If the delivery is to be done in a delivery room, you will be transferred to a delivery table, and your legs will be supported by stirrups. You can hold onto the handles on the sides of the delivery table as you push.
Wherever you deliver, your coach will remain at your side during birth and is welcome to take photographs. High-speed color film produces excellent photographs without the use of a flash.
When the baby’s head is delivered, you will feel a momentary decrease in the pressures you have been experiencing. During this time, the baby’s mouth and nose will be suctioned to remove mucus and amniotic fluid. When this is completed, you will be asked to push down again, and the shoulders, followed by the baby’s body, will be delivered.
The baby is then usually placed on the mother’s abdomen, and further suctioning of the mouth and nose is performed. The baby is then carefully dried to prevent chilling.
Two clamps will be placed across the umbilical cord. Fathers are welcome to cut the umbilical cord if they wish to do so.
You will then be given your baby to hold.
It is very important to prevent the loss of heat in a newborn, so a cap will be placed on the baby’s head, and both you and the baby will be covered by warm blankets.
You will most likely be very eager to inspect your newborn baby. After counting the fingers and toes, you may notice that the baby has a somewhat bluish appearance. This is perfectly normal since it takes a few minutes to oxygenate the blood when making the transition from the uterus to the outside world.
You may also notice some blood on the baby, which comes from the mother’s birth canal. A white material called vernix caseosa covers many babies; this protects the baby while in the uterus.
Often, the baby’s head may appear elongated because of molding that occurs during the passage through the birth canal. This molding gradually disappears over the first two to three days following birth.