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Partner's Guide to Labor

Supporting Transition

Transition is the intense period of time when the cervix completes dilation and the mother becomes ready to push. Her body is in "transition" from the contractions that open the cervix, to the contractions that push the baby out. At this time contractions happen very close together, and last a minute or more. You may notice a change in her behavior, and she may suddenly need a lot more attention to manage her contractions.

Transition can be the most difficult part of labor, and can send some labor support persons into a panic. Although transition is intense, it is usually short. The average transition is only half an hour. Here are some tips to get you through that half hour.

Remain Calm

Your attitude will affect the way a mother labors. If you look or act concerned or stressed, she will pick up on it and become concerned that something is wrong. You must keep yourself calm and relaxed. If necessary, take a step back, take a deep breath and remind yourself transition is normal.

Do not panic if she says "I need something." It is not an indication that you failed. It is just her way of telling you that what you are doing is no longer working, and she is not sure what will help. It is the indicator that she needs you to step up and make a decision about what position or comfort measure to try next.

Remain Positive

Not only is the laboring mother able to pick up on your fear or panic, but she is also sensitive to negative remarks. Comments such as, "You look tired," or, "How much longer will this go on," tell the mother you think something is wrong. She may already be feeling negative. She needs you to be positive and encourage her that she is doing well. Tell her how good she is doing, how great she looks, how proud you are of her.

Keep it Simple

A woman in transition does not have a lot of energy to waste, and if you try to give her detailed or complicated directions she may not remember them when you are finished speaking. Give her simple commands, doing things one step at a time. Say "Let's go to the ball." When she gets there say, "Let's try leaning over the ball." Wait for her to be leaning over the ball before you say, "Rock with the contractions." Keep it simple

Remind Her of Progress

Some women find it easier to handle the intensity of transition when they realize it is transition. Knowing they are almost done can give some women a burst of energy or confidence. If she says she can't do it, tell her she is doing it and she is almost done.