Transition.  The movement from one position, stage, or state, to another.  Applied to labor, it’s the oft-talked about time that leaves some women fearful and unsure.   

Have you heard of this stage of labor?  

Does it make you shudder? Should it?

What’s the big deal about transition, you may wonder.  

How will you mamas-to-be know it’s upon you?  

First, before we listen to any scary accounts before we rile ourselves up before our eyes get too big with panic–let’s define it.

Let’s learn exactly what it is.  

From my own experience, education is great for dispelling myths and reducing fear. Less fear equals less tension which in the end equals less pain. And who doesn’t want less pain?  

More comfortable labor–yes, please!      

Best Laid Plans
Early Labor and Induction
Improving Your Epidural Birth
Optimal Space for Birthing
Preventing Preterm Labor
Vocalizing in Labor
Hard Labor and Transition

Transition is the last part of active labor – when your cervix dilates from 8 to a full 10 centimeters – and marks the shift to the second stage of labor.  

During this stage, babies will often descend further into their mothers’ pelvises.  

For these reasons, some women feel this time to be the most intense period in their labors.  Understandably.      

Common signs that you may be going through transition include, but are not limited to:

  • very close, very strong contractions (coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting upwards of a minute or longer)
  • shaking, shivering
  • nausea, vomiting
  • growling/grunting (yes, growling and grunting)
  •  bloody show/lots of discharge
  • change in body temperature–feeling HOT 
  • self-doubt  

Not one of those sounds pleasant, eh?  I’m with you.  

Kind of the opposite of a stroll through the park. Now you know how to identify transition, but you’re still not any less fearful.  

Here’s the thing.  And it’s a glorious thing I might add.  

Usually, when a woman is in transition it generally means the end is in sight.  

Baby’s arrival is thankfully near. On average transition lasts about thirty to ninety minutes–and is the shortest part of your labor respectfully.  

So if you have been rocking and rolling without pain medication up to that point–it’s important for those trusted people present at the birth to encourage you. Love you. Support you all the more.  

To remind you that you ARE DOING THIS. One contraction at a time. One long slow breath in and one long slow breath out.  

Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat. 

You are doing this. 

I have experienced knowing I was in the transition stage twice in my life.  

Both times I knew that my body was changing–that I was almost completely dilated and effaced and in transition–first because I was so incredibly hot.  

My doula applied cold clothes to my forehead and the back of my neck. What a relief!  Second, because I was nauseous. I vomited. And third–because I WAS DONE.  

When I gave birth to my daughter, and then a few years later to my son I remember telling my husband and doula both times, I don’t want to do this anymore.  

Help me. I don’t want to do this anymore.       

And they reminded me that I was doing it.  

That my baby was coming soon.  

That I was very strong. And beautiful. 

So it’s like this Mamas, take confidence in your knowledge.

When all is said and done,  when the chips are lying where they’ve fallen,  whether or not you identified transition as it was happening, will most likely not matter.  

Thank goodness for endorphins!  And hormones! And love! 

Most likely your eyes will be locked in amazement on the brand new person in your arms and your heart too busy exploding with newfound joy.