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I can't do it anymore: what is transition and what can you expect?

‘I can’t do it anymore!’, ‘I need an epidural NOW!’ and ‘right, I’m done with this. Get the car, we’re going home. I said WE’RE GOING HOME. This labour is officially over.’ That’s right, we’re talking about transition.

Transition is a stage of labour that marks the time between seven and 10cm dilated. During this stage, your body will shift from opening the cervix to beginning your baby’s descent.

During transition, you may feel:

  • Contractions lasting 60-90 seconds long with little time to rest in between
  • Contractions with multiple peaks of pain
  • Strong pressure in the lower back and/or perineum
  • Pressure in your bottom, with or without an urge to push
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Bloody show as capillaries in the cervix rupture
  • Feeling very warm and sweaty or chilled and shaky
  • A tightening sensation in your throat or chest
  • Panicked and overwhelmed
  • Fatigue or exhaustion

So, sounds like an absolute joy, eh? Don’t worry too much, as although this tends to be the most painful part of labour, it’s usually the shortest too, usually lasting between 15 minutes and an hour.

You’ll most likely be pretty exhausted by the time transition comes around, which is why it’s known for women suddenly proclaiming that they just can’t do it anymore! But arming yourself with the knowledge of what to expect during transition will help you recognise that, although it might not feel like it, you’re actually really nearly there.