There is sometimes a lull between the end of the first stage and the beginning of active labour, which gives both you and your baby a chance to rest. By the time the contractions are two minutes apart, the baby will have moved down into the pelvis and you will be able to feel the pressure between your legs. The baby’s head should engage, unless he is in a breech position (feet first) and he will start moving down the birth canal with your contractions, but don’t worry if he slips back up after each one. At first, he will be facing backwards, slightly bent forwards and on his side.
Once he is well into the vagina, the baby’s head will change position once again so he is facing downwards. At this point you may feel the urge to push from the pressure on your perineum, a natural reflex which quickens delivery. If you’ve had an epidural, listen to the advice of your midwife and doctor, who will guide you through the delivery and wait until they tell you to push, even if the urge is strong. Once the midwife can see the head (‘crowning’) you will probably feel a hot, stinging sensation. One more push should be enough and the midwife may ask you to pant through the final stage so that the baby is born more gently, this also reduces the risk of tearing.
If you are having a ‘natural’ delivery, listen to your body and push when you need to, you may find you need to push several times during each contraction. Gravity helps, so stand, squat.