Stage 1 Labor has 3 different phases: Latent Stage, Active Stage, and Transition. I have broken each phase down in its own blog post. Click on the links to learn about Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Phase 3 - Transition
What is happening - Strong to very strong contractions 2-3 minutes apart are dilating you to 8-10 cm. This often lasts only 20-40 minutes. You are almost there - Labor won't last too much longer!
What you can do - Utilize breathing and relaxation techniques between contractions. Don't fight the contractions - try to remain relaxed as much as possible. Take a deep cleansing breath before and after each contraction and continue to breathe as normally as possible throughout the contraction. Use visualization like a wave of the ocean rising, peaking, and breaking over the sand or think about the contraction forcing your baby's head closer throughout the contraction making you that much closer to holding your precious baby in your arms to help keep you focused throughout the contraction. Continue to change positions every 2 hours or less (going through a few contractions on your hands and knees will help the baby descend and be extremely helpful if you are experiencing back labor). Continue to void every 2 hours. This is the point where you will want to give up, will change your mind about not wanting pain, will fear that you can't do this -- these are all normal feelings, so don't be discouraged. You also may get really cranky or angry or not want to be touched - this is due to the hormones preparing your body for birth. As a doula, I like when I see these signs because I know the woman has entered the transition phase, and it won't be too much longer. You may experience a pause/delay in contractions at some point often toward the end - this is normal and a gift! Take advantage of the break and rest as much as possible. Some experience contractions coming one on top of another - keep breathing and stay as relaxed as possible - it's almost over! You may experience nausea or even vomiting - again, this is normal in transition. You may also experience chills/shakes - again, this is normal. Begin utilizing warm compresses to the perineum to prepare the tissue for delivery and assist with discomfort.
Natural Solution Ideas
Try diffusing a diffuser blend of 3 drops orange and 3 drops peppermint to help you stay relaxed and focused.
Continue ideas from Phase 2 to address labor pains, focusing, emotional support, and contraction help.
Mix Helichrysum and Frankincense with fractionated coconut oil and massage over perineum to help stretch the tissue, decrease pain, minimize bruising of baby's head, and decrease swelling and/or tearing.
Use Digestive Blend or Ginger aromatically or topically over stomach or on wrists to help with feelings of nausea or vomiting.
To learn about Stage 2 Labor, read Stage 2 Labor: Delivery.
To read all posts in this Labor & Delivery & Beyond Blog Series, access the links in this introductory post.
Read more about the Doula Services that Christine Russell, RN offers.