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02 July 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 7


Change is inevitable as student midwives work towards qualification—but this does not mean it is not daunting. Charlene Cole explores the theme of ‘transition’ in the life of a student

The word ‘transition’ can apply to many areas of our lives. Our very first transition is that from the warm, usually inverted world of in-utero existence, into the air- and light-filled birth room, where our lungs must inflate in order to make the change from umbilically sustained life to autonomous respiration and circulation. Then there is the transition from childhood to adolescence, or the onset of puberty, which marks a biological change and brings emotional tumult in its wake. In labour, women are said to be in the transition phase as they enter the active phase of labour (Royal College of Midwives, 2012). The fetal head begins to press down onto the taut pelvic floors, priming the mother's body for the second stage of labour, releasing hormones that let the uterus know it is time to contract, and engaging all other abdominal muscles to achieve that final descent from in- to ex-utero. Women often become agitated and frightened, and phrases such as ‘I can't do this anymore’, and ‘I just want to stop now’ are not uncommon. Witnessing this period of a woman's labour is a sign used by experienced midwives that full cervical dilatation is near, and the midwife's role at this part of the labour is significant, as the woman needs quiet reassurance and encouragement.

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