You will first be able to see about a quarters worth of your babies head during pushes, and it will disappear when you stop pushing. Some women find that by reaching down and touching the baby, they are better able to focus their energy for pushing. The baby will seem to take two steps forward and one step back until suddenly your skin begins to stretch and the widest part of the baby’s head is passing through your vagina. When the widest part of the head is passing, it is called crowning.
Many women feel that crowning as a burning and stretching sensation. Some women remark that it feels as if their whole body were tearing in two, even if they did not tear! The skin does stretch, and it can be painful, but it is important to remember that the baby’s head is putting tremendous pressure on the vaginal and perineal skin. This pressure cuts off the circulation and numbs the surrounding tissues. That does not mean that you will not feel the stretching as your baby crowns, but it will be a duller sensation than you might think, like putting pressure on your foot when it is asleep.
When you feel your skin stretching, it is your bodies signal to stop pushing. This is important as it helps to prevent your skin from tearing by moving the baby through too fast. God simply set it up to work this way so the discomfort from crowning will prevent you from pushing. You should also fully relax your pelvic floor muscle at this time (bulging your kegel) to allow the most stretch possible for the baby’s head. Keeping the pelvic floor relaxed will help you prevent a tear as well.
Once the head is out, the baby will begin to turn to work the shoulders through the pelvis. It is then just a matter of pushing the body out with one good push. Sometimes the body just slides out once the shoulders have been released. As your baby comes out you will feel a gush of water as the rest of the amniotic fluid empties. Your baby will still be connected to the umbilical cord, but it should be long enough for you to hold and breastfeed your baby while you wait for the placenta to be born.