Crowning is when the widest part of your baby’s head (often referred to as their crown) emerges from your vaginal opening and remains visible without moving back inside after you finish pushing. Your midwife will now be able to see your baby’s forehead and back of the head clearly. Many women often like to feel down and touch their baby’s head and feel their hair as this can help the woman to focus on pushing the baby out fully.
When a baby crowns, it usually causes a tingling, burning or even a stinging sensation which often causes the woman to yell out in pain and surprise. This pain is caused by the baby stretching your vaginal opening and is sometimes referred to as the ‘ring of fire’. If you do feel any pain whilst your baby is crowning, it will not last long and is often followed with a numbing sensation caused by your baby stretching your vaginal tissues so thinly that the nerves are blocked. This is often referred to as a ‘natural anaesthetic’.
Your midwife will be able to tell when your baby is about to crown and may ask you to stop pushing in order to breathe your baby out. This is more gentle and allows your baby to glide out more gradually and therefore may reduce the risk of tearing. It can be extremely difficult to stop pushing, so you must not worry if you are unable to. Focussing on your breathing techniques may be useful to you during this time and many suggest trying to make your body to go limp so that your contractions push your baby out without you needing to actively push. Your midwife will encourage and advise you during your labour and you should try to listen and take their advice.
While crowning may sound painful, it does not last long and your baby will very soon be born.
If you have any questions regarding your labour, it is important to talk to your midwife.
by Jenny, mum to William and James