Week 38: Pregnancy Week by Week

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Week 38: The Second Stage of Labor


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While you can still ask if you should push, you aren’t ready to push.

-Sheila Kitzinger, The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth 




What’s Happening in Your Body?

Your lower back may ache a bit from the increased weight of your uterus. Braxton-Hicks contractions may be happening on a daily basis. You may be feeling very weary of pregnancy by now. It’s almost time!

What’s Happening with Your Baby?

Your baby is now gaining vital immunities from you that will protect him after he is born.

The Second Stage of Labor

According to popular belief, a woman reaches her second stage of labor at a definable moment, and she is told that is now time to push.

In reality, few women experience such a clear-cut transition to the second stage of labor. Technically speaking, the second stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated at 10 centimeters. The transition into the second stage, however, begins somewhere between 8 and 10 centimeters of dilation. For helpful hints and more information about the second stage of labor, read the full article.

Nourish Yourself

Written accounts of labor and birth from the 1700s and 1800s often mention the custom of baking a groaning cake. In some areas this was used to simply celebrate the birth. Other customs included having the father cut the cake into chunks and throwing it into the midwife’s apron, or passing it around to local girls who were supposed to put it under their pillows in order to dream about their future husbands. And some accounts even include baking cake with gin and crushed hemp seed (cannabis) in it in order to relieve pain during labor.

You can bake your own celebratory cake, or have someone bake it for you, to have ready for the birth day of your baby. 

Body Wise

Squatting and on hands and knees is a particularly helpful position during the pushing stage. Birthing in an upright position allows gravity to assist you during delivery. Some women, however, choose a semi-reclined position during labor and birth.

For Seated C-Curve Position, you will sit upright, slightly bent forward and with your legs apart. Gather a lot of pillows to put behind you for support so that you can sit upright more easily, or ask your support person to sit behind you. It is comforting to rest against someone during delivery.

Choose either a bed with a firm mattress or a floor with a rug. Sit with your torso erect, your back straight, and your shoulders directly above your hips. Open your legs wide with your knees bent and your hands resting on your thighs. Put your feet either flat on the floor or place your soles together on the bed.

You can practice this, and other birth positions right now!

Natural Soothers

Water can be very relaxing during labor. Some women like to take a bath in early labor. Others will get into a warm tub during active contractions. Use water that is almost body temperature-about 100°F.

French obstetrician Michel Odent pioneered the offering of warm pools of water to women during labor at the hospital in Pithiviers, France. He found that most used them for comfort during labor, rather than for birth.

Being in the water makes it easier to squat as the water supports you. You can lean against your partner in the water between contractions. Some women have found that the warm water replaces the desire for relief from medication.

Higher Ground

Here’s a poem that you can use as a mantra during the intense time of transition between birth and pushing contractions. It will help you to focus your energy.


Chant For Transition

Want it to come faster

Want it to go deeper

Want it to come faster

Want it to go deeper

It is coming faster

It is going deeper

Keep doing it one at a time

It’s all right

One at a time

You breathe

One at a time

Try it

One at a time

Babies come

One at a time


One at a time

Do it

One at a time

You’ll do it

—Ed Barna



Image by Durga Yael Bernhard


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