What Is Transitional Labor?

Transitional labor can get pretty intense. Learn what happens during this phase and some tips for getting through it.
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ByThe Bump Editors
Updated
May 2017
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Photo: Getty Images

Transitional labor is a pretty intense time during the whole labor process. It’s the stage between active labor—when you’re hanging out in the hospital having contractions maybe three to five minutes apart—and actually starting to push for delivery.

During this transition, the contractions will come faster and more furiously than before. And you may start to feel the notorious “urge to push” (kinda like having to go number two really badly, but worse). The problem with that? You actually shouldn’t push until your OB or nurse checks your cervix to make sure it’s fully dilated (otherwise, you risk injuring it), and some moms-to-be find it really tough (and painful!) to hold back.

How do you fight against the urge? With breathing. You can simply focus on controlling your breathing, or try blowing the air out in short puffs as you wait for the go-ahead from your doctor.

At this point, you may have had anesthesia, which can also help you through. And don’t worry—transitional labor is typically pretty short (about 15 minutes to an hour), and once you get through it, you’re almost there!

Expert source: Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month, Fifth Edition, by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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