After transition, there is often a noticeable break between the contractions (or they may even stop for a while). This is a resting phase that can happen, as the woman's body re-adjusts to prepare for the pushing phase. Many women have no urge to push at this time. During the resting phase the cervix is fully dilated (or pulled completely up into the body of the uterus).
Image 3-06 shows the cervix completely open and the baby's head moulding to the shape of the mother as it moves down the vagina, the bag of waters are now broken.
2nd stage, active or pushing phase
The active, or pushing, phase of the 2nd stage of labour is normally characterised by very strong contractions, which are generally further apart than they were during the 1st stage. The woman usually has an urge to push (or a sensation of wanting to open her bowels). The baby is starting to make the journey out of the woman's uterus, through her pelvis and down the vagina (or birth canal).
Image 3-07 shows the baby moving further down the vagina, assisted by the mother's pushing. At this point the head cannot be seen at the opening of the vagina.
Crowning, end of 2nd stage
The end of the 2nd stage is when the baby's head 'crowns' or the top of the baby's head is clearly visible at the opening of the woman's vagina. The perineum is stretched to the maximum, and most women can often feel a strong, burning sensation. The woman usually needs to 'pant' or breathe at this time, rather than pushing, to help ease her baby's head out.
Image 3-08 shows the baby's head crowning at the end of 2nd stage, the baby's head is clearly visible at the opening of the vagina.