You have a right to have a support person with you in labour. This may be your partner, a family member or friend, or a doula (trained birth companion).
Professional doulas charge fees for their service.
In Victoria, Birth for Humankind offers a free doula service for women who are economically disadvantaged and meet at least one following criteria:
at risk of perinatal depression and anxiety
under 25 years of age
a refugee, asylum seeker or newly arrived migrant (within 5 years)
has a history of mental illness, drug and alcohol misuse, trauma and abuse issues
of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
lacking a birth support person
You can make a referral for yourself or someone else here.
The Second Stage of Labour
stage describes the period of time from when the cervix (the opening of the uterus) reaches 10cm to when your baby is born.
In second stage you may experience:
longer and stronger contractions, with a one to two minute break in between
increased pressure in your bottom
the desire or urge to push
shaky cramps, feeling sick and vomiting
stretching and burning feelings in your vagina.
The following video is helpful to better understanding the experiencing of labour and birth.
Please note, that episiotomies (cuts to make the birth opening bigger) are not best practice and the parents are often offered the opportunity to cut the cord instead of the midwife or doctor.
Taking care of yourself in labour
For many first time mothers, labour can take between 6-20 hours before it’s time to push and this can also take a few hours so it is important to take care of yourself and rest as much as possible. Try:
to concentrate on your contractions and rest in between
to let go and allow your body to do what it needs to do
different positions – sitting, standing or walking
a cold face washer if you get too hot, this can be very soothing
a bath or shower to help you to relax and to manage the pain
Remember to keep drinking water or sucking ice and rest as much as you can.
Some of these positions above might help you during labour. The more you move around and sway your hips, the easier it is for your baby to move down lower and for labour to progress
When the urge to push arrives it can be overwhelming.
The pushing phase varies for each woman but can last for up to 2-3 hours, usually less if you have had a baby before.
Aside from the urge to push, you are likely to feel:
pressure, and a strong urge to go to the toilet
stretching and burning in your vagina
the baby’s head moving down.
The best thing you can do during this phase is to try and breathe deeply, relax and follow your body’s urge to push.
Trust and listen to your midwife or doctor who will guide you.
The following video is helpful to better understanding the experiencing of labour and birth. Please note, that episiotomies (cuts to make the birth opening bigger) are not best practice and the parents are often offered the opportunity to cut the cord instead of the midwife or doctor.
The Third Stage of Labour
The third stage begins after your baby is born and finishes when the placenta has also been pushed out (usually within about 5-30 minutes after birth).
In the third stage you may have:
more contractions to push the placenta down and out of your vagina
a feeling of fullness in your vagina or like you need to do a poo.
The midwife will usually pull on the cord to deliver the placenta but may ask you to help by gently pushing.
You should be able to cuddle with and breastfeed your baby immediately after birth.
Forceps and Vacuum Delivery
Sometimes during the end of the second stage, you or your baby may get too tired to keep pushing
If your baby’s position is making pushing difficult or your baby’s heart rate drops and doesn’t return to normal, your doctor may ask you for consent to use forceps or a vacuum (this is also called a ventouse).
They may also need to make a cut along the birth passage,called an episiotomy. This gives your baby more room to come out but is not a routine procedure and you should always be asked before this occurs.
Most women will have some grazes or small tearing during birth. First and second degree tears tend to heal better than episiotomies but if they medical staff are worried the tear might be bigger then they may ask to do an episiotomy.
It is your right to ask questions and find out if there are alternatives to these interventions. If you don’t understand what is happening, you can ask for an interpreter or ask the medical team to slow down and explain things simply.
Some people like to consider the following questions when making their decision. This is something you can discuss with your midwife or doctor during your pregnancy also if you are nervous or unsure of anything.
Remember, it is your right to understand everything that is happening to you, your body and your baby at this time.