Stages of labour – stage two

Once your cervix is fully dilated then the second stage begins which is the birth and final descent of your baby.  Many women can find this stage the easiest especially as your contractions are further apart.  Tucking your chin to your chest can focus your energy on where it needs to be. As your uterus contracts it exerts pressure on the baby which moves him down the birth canal.  If everything is going ok then you can take it slowly and let your body do the work – your uterus is still contracting and that action will push the baby out meaning that you don’t need to push or at least push as hard.  If you are considering this then discuss with your doctor.

Descent and delivery

As your body delivers your baby you should be aware that this is a process that can be quite slow or pretty quick – remember no two labours are the same!

Think of the descent as being very much two steps forward and on back. Think of it as doing the biggest bowel movement you have ever done. At some point your healthcare provider will ask you to stop pushing or push more gently so help your vagina and perineum stretch and help prevent tearing. The perineum goes from a thickness of 5cm to 1cm at this stage of delivery (it does go back afterwards!)  You may be asked to pant between contractions to help counteract your natural pushing instinct. It is also really common to pass a stool or urinate in this stage – don’t worry the medical staff will have seen it all before and there is also a theory that your body does this to pass on valuable antibodies to your child


The head will emerge until it crowns which is when the widest part of the face is visible.  When this happens you may feel some burning or stinging as you stretch. There will be much excitement as your baby’s forehead, nose, mouth and chin emerges.  Your healthcare provider will suction her mouth and nose as well as feel around her neck for the umbilical cord (if it is there it will either be clamped and cut or just slipped over the head). Her head will automatically turn to one side so her shoulders can position themselves and then they will come out one at a time, followed by her body. 

If you prefer then here is a short graphic (as in computer generated not blood and guts) clip that shows the movement of the baby as it is born.