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Baby Crowning: What Is It? And What Does It Feel Like?

2 years ago4 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

Baby crowning is when the baby’s head emerges out of the birth canal. It can be intense, but it also means your baby is finally here!

Baby crowning

As the saying goes, Knowledge Is Power.

You’ve heard people talk about baby crowning and “the ring of fire,” and as your due date approaches and you’re preparing for birth, you want to know more.

We’re here to break it down for you, mama.

Baby crowning pictures can be the stuff of horror stories for some.

But your baby crowning means you are super close to meeting them… yay! So, hold onto your seats (literally)… we’re talking all things baby crowning.

In this article: 📝

  • What does it mean when baby is crowning?
  • What does a baby crowning feel like?
  • What are the signs of crowning?
  • How long does it take to give birth after crowning?

What does it mean when baby is crowning?

Your baby crowning in labor is the point at which your baby’s head is visible from the outside and doesn’t slip back up the birth canal between contractions.

At this point, they’ve descended through the birth canal, and you’re almost at the end of your labor. Hooray!

So what does a baby crowning look like?

When a baby is crowning, you’ll be able to see the top of their head and get a sneak preview as to whether they’ve got hair (or not)!

If you’re interested, during labor you can ask your doctor or midwife for a mirror to take a look at your crowning baby.

Or you could reach down and touch their head between contractions.

Or you can totally do the opposite and keep your eyes squeezed shut in concentration — no judgment here!

Vaginal delivery on different skin tones

What does a baby crowning feel like?

While everyone’s labor journey is unique, vaginal crowning is often the moment of most intense pain during labor.

At this moment, the largest part of your baby — their head — is stretching your vaginal opening — hence, “Ring of Fire.”

Sounds pleasant, right?

You may feel a strong, burning pain, or it may feel more like numbness as the nerves around your vagina are blocked by the stretching skin.

For some, the pain is quite mild.

Whatever level of pain, it is only temporary, as your baby crowning is usually over with quite quickly.

The experience of your baby crowning will also depend on your pain relief choices, as mamas who opt for an epidural or nerve blocker are likely to feel an intense pressure, rather than pain, as your baby presses down on your perineum.

What are the signs of crowning?

As your active labor progresses, your contractions will get more intense, and there may be no break between them.

Instead, you might feel a constant urge to bear down — and push!!! This is an indication your baby is close to crowning.

Your doctor or midwife will likely guide you through this latter stage of birth as your baby is crowning, and they may suggest you stop pushing.

Instead, you might be advised to let your contractions do the work for you, but this can be hard to do.

Trying to relax as much as possible, and practicing shallow breathing, are all encouraged to minimize the risk of tears.

Still, up to 90% of first-time mothers giving birth vaginally will experience a tear, but don’t panic.

Yes, we are talking about “tears” that rhymes with “bears,” not what you do when you cry.

But it needn’t be something to fear.

Perineal or vaginal tears will require stitches after birth, but generally pain and discomfort will subside within a couple of weeks, and the stitches will dissolve.

Perineal massage is suggested by many healthcare providers to minimize the risk of tears.

How long does it take to give birth after crowning?

Are you wondering, how long after crowning is baby born?

Generally, once your baby has crowned, you will give birth within the next one or two contractions.

Have faith, mama – once your baby is crowning, you haven’t got long to go.

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