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The birth

During the second stage, the baby’s head moves down until it can be seen. When the head is almost ready to be born , the midwife will ask you to stop pushing, and to pant or puff a couple of quick short breaths, blowing out through your mouth. This is so that your baby’s head can be born slowly and gently, giving the skin and muscles of the perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) time to stretch without tearing.

The skin of the perineum usually stretches well, but it may tear. Sometimes, to help the baby be born quickly, or if a significant tear seems likely , the midwife or doctor will inject local anaesthetic and cut an episiotomy. Afterwards, the cut or tear is stitched up again and heals. Find out about your body after the birth, including how to deal with stitches.

Once your baby’s head is born, most of the hard work is over. With one more gentle push the body usually follows. You can have your baby lifted straight onto you before the cord is cut by your midwife or birth partner.

Your baby may be born covered with a white, greasy substance known as vernix, which has acted as protection in the uterus.

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