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Transition makes me crazy.

Transition. How do you remember it?

"I was so out of control"

"I said things I don't even remember!"

"I was so mean I'm sorry..."

"I didn't expect her to be so upset"

"I couldn't tell if she really needed help- or how to help her"

"Oh my god that was so bad.."


Transition is this magical phase in your labor...

(7-10 cm)

It's really not magical. It's a little nuts...

We remember it as a haze of behavior that made no sense.. as though we were asleep or watching from somewhere else...



At this point, you've already been laboring hard for awhile now- the pain seems relentless, you're exhausted, thinking of sleep, frustrated...and of course at this point


(That's what I remember most)

And in these moments- most of us think

or say,

or hope......



(I chuckled writing that)

Transition is usually defined as a turning point, a change in energy or focus, or a passage or change from one condition to another.

(That describes transition as we know it, doesn't it?)

During the transition phase of labor, your body is finishing the dilation process, usually starting around 7cm, to the complete 10cm.


Your contractions are LOOOONG -maybe as long as 90 seconds or more

NOW THAT'S A FUCKING MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB. (I have a thing about mountains and contractions)

They are so close together -there is no break. maybe a minute in between. But there is no "break"..what I would have given to feel a BREAK of some kind.  Even your "climb down the mountain" (as your contraction winds down) feels more like a fall..painful, out of control, out of your mind..

Your baby is about to slam through your pelvis and your bones are crushing beneath the enormity of your child & the force of the contractions. 

JUST KIDDING> that's my definition.

But I'm dead serious..

Transition is insane.

Women in transition are having an experience that each one will tell differently. Feel differently. But it's hard for almost everyone.

As a doula, I see so many different ways women labor through transition. I'm never totally surprised

Some women I can admit, I'm a little taken aback at the way transition affected them specifically-

but never really surprised....though your partner might be.

The nicest women become unintentionally mean

The most composed women are screaming and clawing at their beds, blankets, pillows

The most hardcore women are begging for help

The screaming, the words, the chanting, the crazy personality changes -they seem totally possessed-


*remind your partner & family of this please, over and over. Imagine what this looks like to the partners and in-laws, the soon to be grandparents-anyone who hasn't seen it...

Your comfort measures wont work

You can't pee

Your pacing

then crying

tensing your whole body

begging for help


touch feels horrible

you're hot and sweaty

*And the pain feels nothing like earlier in your labor...

That SHIFT that happened a few centimeters ago- active labor- has nothing on the throws of transition.

You are literally out of control. And there isn't anything you can do.

*DISCLAIMER some women don't seem to experience these levels of pain- or behave out of control. (I am not one of them) But I've seen them. And I'm floored by it.

So what CAN you do?

  • Surrender. Fighting contractions doesn't help. Loosen your muscles, your jaw, use deep breaths and deep tones, and let them come. One at a time.
  • Move. Move everywhere, all over the place, as much as you need. You will totally feel crazy, and nothing and nowhere is comfortable, but move anyway.
  • Let go. No inhibitions here. Let everything go, don't worry about the people around you, what you look or sound like, or what you SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be doing.


  • Cold rags. Are just awesome. For hot **extremely hot** faces, shoulders, necks, foreheads.....    & for cleaning up as well..
  • Basin. Gagging and puking is totally normal. Be ready to catch & clean it up quick so there isn't any more unnecessary discomfort for her.
  • Pay attention. If she's cringing at a touch from you or someone else, or shaking her head no, stop doing it, and THEN say something like "I won't do that if you don't want me to" If it helped, she'll let you know. Maybe.
  • REMEMBER WHAT IS NORMAL! Most of this is normal. The behavior, the pain, crying or screaming, vomiting, bits of bloody or slimy things coming out... NORMAL. When things are not normal, your care providers will tell you. And you can always ask them.
  • Don't expect answers or conversation. We can't think straight, and the moments we can- ARE THE ONLY TINY BREAKS WE MIGHT GET. If she doesn't answer, let it be. Talking and answering questions, can feel like TORTURE during transition. Don't make her do it if she doesn't need to.
  • ENCOURAGE. OVER AND OVER. Not cheering, joking, or slaps on the butt. You might get knocked out. I will totally laugh at you if you get clocked. Try "You're doing great" "I've got you" "You can do this"
  • Continue to offer her drinks & fluids. Not drinking in labor can make you dehydrated. Quickly. Mouth dryness is so hard to deal with when you're breathing heavily and working on merely surviving at this point. Give her water and fruit juice, both options if you can. WITH A BENDY STRAW~

See the evidence for eating and drinking during labor HERE

What else is there to know?

Labor is different for every woman, and every birth. Don't expect...just go with the flow.

Have a good support team. This can make all the difference in the world.

Don't watch the damn clock. COVER IT IF YOU HAVE TO-
Transition is simply (and not so simply) the point at which your body is ALMOST READY TO PUSH> and by almost I don't mean almost in time. Time doesn't exist here. Don't pay attention to it.
ALMOST as in> The final phase of the 1st stage of labor.

After this you will be pushing your baby earthside.


And don't apologize to your doula.

If you need to flip out, throw up on my shirt, hate every comfort measure, act insane, or have no idea what you want- don't sweat it.

This what we're here for. Support.



*Check out for more information on eating and drinking during labor, and to find more information on giving birth based on the best evidence.