Blog Series: What the heck happens during the Pushing Stage of Labor?


The Pushing Stage

The second stage begins when your cervix is dilated to 10 cm, and ends when your baby is delivered. Once your care provider gives you the go ahead to start pushing you are on the final stretch.

Birth may be a matter of a moment, but it is a unique one.” –Frederick Leboyer

What’s happening?

  • Your cervix is completely dilated.
  • You’re experiencing very intense contractions

What to expect:

  • “The urge to push”
  • You will continue needing some additional physical support as well as some emotional support.

How to cope/What to do:

  • Massage
  • Verbal affirmations
  • Face to face and eye to eye breathing together
  • Cold compresses as the contractions end

There are different pushing methods that you may want to consider.

  1. Passive descent is when you are not coached to push at 10 cm and instead are trying to “labor the baby down” by utilizing contractions. You are choosing to rely on your intuition, your body will tell you at what point to push, and at what point to rest.
  2. Coached pushing is when you are given the go ahead to start pushing, and you work with your care provider to “coach” you on when to push. Your care provider will instruct you to take and hold a deep breath at the start of a contraction and push for as long as you can then release your breath. During a single contraction there will be three sets of pushes and you will rest in between.

Many women do a mixture of the two methods, typically with coaching in the beginning until they get the hang of things.


Photo: A Study For Crowning by Sara Star


Previous Stages:

Future Stages:

1.Early Labor

5. Placental Stage of Labor

2. Active Labor


3. Transitional Labor


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