During the last stage of labour your baby’s head will move down and the midwife will see it. If you put your hand at the opening of your vagina, you will feel your baby.
The midwife will ask you to stop pushing and to pant or blow a few short quick breaths. This helps your baby’s head to be born slowly and gently. Practice these breathing techniques before your due date.
The skin around the vagina and perineum (the area between your vaginal opening and your anus) usually stretches well. Occasionally it can tear. Panting and blowing out helps to prevent this. Your midwife will help you, so try not to be anxious.
When your baby’s head is born, give one small and gentle push for the body.
Your baby can then be lifted onto your tummy or chest if this is what you would like. This is the start of safe skin-to-skin contact.
The umbilical cord will be clamped and cut after 2 minutes or after it has stopped pulsating.
During a water birth
If you have a water birth, your midwife will help you to lift your baby out of the water into your arms for skin-to-skin contact.
It is important your baby’s head remains above the surface of the water. Your midwife will stay with you and make sure you and your baby are safe.