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First Stage of Labour - Transition Phase

August 10, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

woman laying in bed holding her head


For many women, the transition phase is the most challenging part of labour. Because of the rapid changes and intensity of labour at this time, you may not get much relief from pain and discomfort between contractions.

This can make it very difficult to remain calm and focused.

You might feel extremely irritable and sensitive and have trouble communicating. It's also fairly common to experience nausea and vomiting, leg cramps and trembling of arms and legs, hot or cold flashes, sweating and a strong urge to push with contractions.

Diagram - First Stage Effacement and DilationTransition First Stage Labour Signs

  • Cervix almost fully dilated 
  • Baby moves down further into pelvis, putting pressure on mother’s bottom.
  • Contractions may be strong, coming every two to three minutes and lasting 60 seconds. 
  • Healthcare provider monitors fetal heart rate every 15-30 minutes. 

Tips for you and your support person

  • Women in the transition phase need a great deal of support. 
  • Picture your cervix and body opening to let your baby out.
  • Tell someone if you have the urge to push.
  • If you have the urge to push and are not fully dilated (10 centimetres), pant (like a dog) until you are fully dilated.

Labour Partners

  • Reassure her that she's doing a great job.
  • Wipe her forehead with cool cloths.
  • Offer small sips of fluid between contractions.
  • Look into her eyes and help her focus during her contractions.

Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Labor and Delivery
HealthLink BC: Contractions During Pregnancy: What to Expect



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