Emotional and Physical Signs You are in Transition During Labor

Trish ~ Labor Nurse Mama
December 7, 2019

The transition during labor is exactly that, you are transitioning from the first stage of labor to the second stage of labor.

Why I am here and who I am:

Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!

We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!

It is the last phase before pushing, Hallelujah and praise Jesus, the baby is coming.

This is when you go from 7 cm to 10 cm. And girl, it is a beast, but take heart, because it is usually fast.

Transition is typically the most intense part of your labor and it hits hard. Being prepared is key to not succumbing to your fear and anxiety when transition hits you. This is the point in labor when your hard-earned focus will begin to fail and your mind loses its control.

So what do we do about it? We prepare. Understand the signs and then learn some tips for coping. (HInt: your support peeps need to read this as well.

Obviously, if you are a regular reader then you know this is when I say, EDUCATION IS KEY!

I am in the process of creating a new birth class, sadly it won't be completed until 2020. I would highly recommend you take a childbirth class to prepare for both labor and the postpartum phase of pregnancy.

Also, be sure to grab your free birth affirmations to display during your baby's birth.

Read this now: The Golden Hour after Birth and How you should protect it. You have rights!

Emotional Signs of Transition during Labor

    • Feelings and verbalizing “I'm done” “I can't” “I quit”
    • wanting to run away or go home.
    • Deciding that you can't do it for one more moment
    • withdrawing emotionally
    • not wanting to respond
    • feeling angry at your support team or providers
    • unable to communicate your emotions
    • wanting to be touched then getting angry that you are being touched
    • feeling emotionally restless and uncomfortable
    • suddenly yelling for everyone to get out (I did this during 2 births and 2 people who planned to be with me, were kicked out…oops)
    • Everyone and everything suddenly irritates you
    • Wanting to scratch the birth plan entirely and get drugs
    • yelling for an epidural even though you adamantly refused one.
    • A sudden need for more emotional and physical support
    • No longer modest
    • loss of resolution
    • feeling out of control
    • foggy & disoriented


    • crawling up the bed
    • moving away from touch that previously comforted you
    • shaking your head left and right
    • trembles or uncontrollable shaking
    • sweating
    • cold flash
    • dry mouth
    • vomiting
    • unbelievably intense pressure in your rectum “I've got to poop”
    • long, strong, intense contractions
    • swatting at people who touch you
    • rupture of membranes
    • increased bloody show
    • burping/hiccups

Read now: Delayed Bathing of your Newborn is Wise

Be Prepared with A Plan

Understanding the stage is key to survival. Typically it lasts 30 minutes or less, but it can last up to 3 hours. (That is rare)

Your support team needs to be prepared to usher you through this trying time. Prep is important here people. Uber necessary.

Be sure to grab your free detailed birth plan right here!

Here's how to cope:


Water is comforting, so if you can get into a tub, do it now. Being submerged in water relaxes you and your muscles, aka uterus, which is a muscle. Unfortunately, a hospital birth might damper this need. If possible ask if you can get into the shower.

Positional changes

Moving can also provide relief. For me, my transition during labor moves quick, so usually the position I am in during transition is the last one I am in. Get into Hands and knees if possible and ask your labor support person to do the double hip squeeze or counter pressure.

Follow yours truly on Instagram @labor.nurse.mama

Practice relaxation methods

Call on this powerful technique when you need it during transition. Remember that rectal pressure I told you about? Girl, it is intense. You need to relax the muscles and not tense up in response.

This will make the transition stage go quicker. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is for the baby to move through. Think about a closed door. If you are trying to walk through a doorway but someone is closing it on your body, you can't move forward.


Recognize this stage and allow yourself to move through it. I am including some birth affirmations to post on the walls during transition. USE THEM. They can be visual reminders that you knew this was coming and it will be over soon.

Support for Transition During Labor

Your support team is critical during this stage of labor. Ideally, they have taken a birth class with you and they are well aware of your birth plan. Knowing what you planned to do during birth, will guide them in directing you during transition.

    • Advocate for her Birth Plan
    • Remain Calm and don't react
    • reassure her that she can do it
    • use a calming voice
    • speak encouragement over her
    • do not have side conversations
    • keep the room calm and lights dim
    • follow her lead about physical touch
    • remind her that she is almost done
    • stay near her, even if she gets rude
    • maintain eye contact if possible
    • if she is warm, then get cool washcloths. If you have a wet one, shake it around in the air and it will cool down.
    • Do not take anything personally, it is not about you.

Comment and share your experiences with transition during labor.

labor nurse mama trish ware

Just a little Disclaimer: As always, I am just writing my thoughts and what I’ve learned along the way. Although I am in fact a labor and delivery RN, This is not medical advice. You should always seek and follow the advice of your care provider.

This post may contain some affiliate links (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Thank you! For our full disclosure read here)


Related Articles

Latest Podcast Episodes