Local Maternity System

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Labour and birth

Second stage of labour

The second stage of labour is when your baby is born. Just like the first stage, everyone experiences the second stage of labour differently. This stage can last from a few minutes (especially in second or subsequent labours) or up to three hours. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will be pushing for three hours straight!

Some women won’t feel the urge to push when they are fully dilated. This can be due to your baby’s position and how high they are in the birth canal. Often your baby just needs a bit of time – sometimes changing your position can help your baby to move lower and trigger the urge to push.

The length of the second stage of labour will also depend on how your baby is reacting to the pushing, which position they are in, how well you are, and how effective your contractions are. There are times when your baby will need help to be born, either through an assisted or caesarean birth. If your team thinks this is necessary, they will discuss this with you.

During the second stage, women often feel that they can’t carry on, but most women find new strength, determination and energy to continue pushing when they know their baby will be born soon. If your labour has been very long and you really are struggling to keep going, the staff will talk to you about your options to help deliver your baby safely.

You will be supported by your team midwife to breathe slowly or pant as your baby’s head is being born. They will then help you birth your baby by delivering their shoulders. Once your baby is born, you should be able to hold them right away, as long as they are well.

Birth partners often cut the cord. The midwife will guide you through this, so don’t worry.

All babies are encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact with their parents as soon as possible. This promotes bonding between you and your baby. If you plan to breastfeed, you should be able to try feeding your baby right away.

Not all babies are born a pink colour, and some may not cry immediately. Try not to worry if this is the case. Your midwife may tell you that your baby needs some help to take their first breath. Midwives and neonatologists (doctors who specialise in caring for babies) are highly experienced in dealing with these situations.

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Your baby is now officially an embryo and is about the size of a poppy seed.

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/4-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Your baby is now the size of a kidney bean and weighs 1g. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/8-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Welcome to the second trimester!

Your baby is about the size of a small lime and weighs approximately 14g.

You have hopefully seen your midwife for your 'booking in' appointment, if you have not yet seen a midwife please make an appointment quickly, so you can have all of your choices about screening tests explained and offered to you.

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/12-weeks-pregnant/ for more information. You can also link to the 'Pregnancy Journey' area here.  


Your baby is about the size of an avocado and weighs approximately 100g. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/16-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Your baby has grown in length and is now the length of a small banana and weighs approximately 300g. Around this time you will be offered your '20 week' scan, also known as the 'anatomy' or 'anomaly' scan.Click here for more information about screening. 

This is a also a good time to talk and sing to your bump as your baby can now hear sounds. This is great way for you and your partner/family to bond with your baby.

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/20-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Your baby has grown again to the approximate length of an ear of sweetcorn and weighs about 600g. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/24-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Welcome to the third trimester!

Your baby is now approximately the weight of an aubergine; about 1kg and approximately 37cm in length. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/28-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Your baby now weighs approximately the same as a coconut; around 1.5kg. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/32-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Your baby is now around the same size as a lettuce, approximately 47cm long and weighs around 2.6kg. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/36-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.

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Your baby is now the weight of a small watermelon which is approximately 3.3kg and around 50cm in length. 

Please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/40-weeks-pregnant/ for more information.