Crowning During Delivery: Facts To Be Aware Of

Out of all the stages of labor and birth, the first stage is the most intense whereas the crowning is the toughest part. In case you are not familiar with the term, crowning is when your baby’s head starts emerging out with every contraction.

During contractions, the muscles of the uterus tighten or narrow and then relax, pushing the baby out. When crowning happens, your cervix is completely dilated to 10 centimeters with an efficacy percentage of 100, which means the cervix becomes shorter, softer and thinner for the baby to pass through it.


What Is Crowning?

Crowning is when the baby’s head remains visible and doesn’t slip back. This is an indication that they will be born sooner. It is possible that when the contraction happens and the baby head is visible, it would slip back or hide from the view after the muscles relax and contraction is over.

During active labor, the contractions are longer, stronger and happen with fewer breaks. Your body prepares for it 2-3 weeks before your labor starts. When the baby descends and their head engages in the mother’s pelvis, it is called engagement or lightening—the mother usually feels lighter and comfortable and the shape of her belly changes slightly as baby moves down.


Contractions during the first stage of labor are mild and last for about 30-45 seconds—you will experience sporadic contractions with a rest of 5 to 30 minutes in between. Gradually, your labor will gradually get intense and contractions will get closer until your cervix is dilated to 10 centimeter—the second stage of labor starts here.

Your contractions will be stronger and will last for about 45-60 seconds. You will have 3-5 minutes to rest in between—sometimes, the contractions might overlap. This is the time when you feel a strong urge to push—don’t keep pushing at every instinct, instead listen to your doctor or midwife.


As your baby’s head emerges out of the vagina, you may feel a stretching and burning sensation down there. Many women describe as a ring of fire as your vaginal tissues get stretched to their maximum capacity by your baby’s head. Your doctor or nurse may advise you to change position or hold your push as it could cause perineal tearing.

However, at times it becomes difficult to do so and women who deliver vaginally do experience some form of tears. Being in upright or squatting position could reduce the risk of tearing. This is where the breathing techniques that you learned during prenatal classes could help you. Breathe shallow, it will help you control the urge to push with all your might and, thus, prevent tearing.


How To Prevent Perineum Tears?

1. Don’t force push out the body—be slow and gentle on yourself. If you can, feel your baby’s head while crowning by touching down there. Once you know the head is emerging, restrict yourself to shorter pushes.

2. Practice breathing techniques. Breathe out as if you are blowing candles to avoid pushing down with your whole body.


3. Practice Kegel exercises well before your delivery to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. It helps improves blood circulation to the pelvis and increases skin elasticity.

4. Lie on your side during labor or kneel while leaning against a support—it will prevent chances of tearing.


5. Do perineal massage before your due date arrives. Apply olive oil in areas between your vagina and rectum and gently massage it. Before or during labor, apply warm compresses to the area.

Sometimes, your doctor might have to use forceps, vacuum extractor or manually deliver the baby if they are stuck in the birth canal. After crowning, when your baby’s head finally emerges out, the body will follow imminently.


Your baby’s birth is followed by the delivery of the placenta, which is the final stage of labor and happens between 10 minutes to 1 hours after the birth.

Progress slowly and gently and listen to your body. Gather more information and ask your doctor for more information to help you prepare mentally before you enter the delivery room.