What is Transition Like?
Not all women have a transition, in fact 1/3 of women don't seem to have a specific time of transition. Another 1/3 of women claim that transition was not any more difficult than the rest of labor, and 1/3 claim it was the worst part of labor.
Transition is the time that your body is completing dilation and preparing to push your baby out. It is generally very intense with contractions right on top of each other, and sometimes with double peaks. But it is also the shortest part of labor, generally lasting 15 minutes to half an hour.
You will recognize transition by the desire to give up. This is when women claim they just can't do it anymore. Most women begin to doubt their ability to go on, and may seem to forget that they are in labor to give birth to a baby. This is also the time in labor when most women ask for something to help them with the pain.
Transition is also recognizable by various physical signs, which may or may not be present at your labor. Some women get hot and cold flashes, cold sweats, nausea or vomiting, shivering or shaking, hiccups, burping and a general inability to feel comfortable in any position. This is the most common time for the bag of waters to break naturally. When you begin to show these signs, it does not matter if you are dilated to 1 or 10 centimeters, it means you are very close to pushing your baby out.
Many women find that when vaginal exams are done to access cervical dilation progress, their dilation is not uniform. Rather than dilating a centimeter every hour or two, they will dilate to 4 or 6 or 7 and seem to stop for a few hours. This does not mean that labor has stalled, as long as your contractions continue to get more intense, closer together and longer simply prepare yourself. Generally what happens is the body gets itself ready and then suddenly dilates the rest of the way in two or three contractions!
Even if your caregiver is convinced that you have hours to go, do not listen. Instead pay attention for the signs of transition. When you see them be assured that you are nearly ready to push. Transition can happen at any point of the cervical dilation chart. Do not depend on vaginal exams to tell you how long you will labor; they simply are not accurate. Even if you have been given medication to stimulate contractions, do not expect your body to conform to a standard of dilation. You may also find yourself suddenly in transition before your caregiver expected.