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Fears in labor:  Crowning


“The ring of fire terrifies me”!  “I am going to tear”!  “The pain will be so intense”. 



These are all things I hear from mothers as we discuss their fears of birth.  So what exactly is happening during crowning?  The American Pregnancy Association says: “During delivery, your baby’s head will begin to show through your vaginal opening with each contraction. When your baby’s head remains visible without slipping back in, it is known as crowning”.  “The burning or stinging sensation only lasts for a short time and is followed by a feeling of numbness. The numbness comes from the baby’s head stretching the vaginal tissue so thin that the vaginal nerves are blocked. The effect is like a natural anesthetic. There is no set time frame for how long this step of delivery will last”. 


The best technique is as soon as you feel the baby’s head coupled with the stinging, is stop pushing.  This will allow the vaginal tissue to stretch thin.  You want to slow down this part and also the baby sitting at the birth opening allows the numbness to develop.  Your Care Provider should remind you to stop at this point.


So how in the heck do you overcome the urge to push? 

  • Use your breathing to do this.  Take in a nice deep breath of air using your entire lung capacity.  The project the air towards the back of the throat as you exhale as though you were going to allow the air to escape down the throat and through the vagina.  Moan as you are doing this.  It allows you to release some of the built up intensity of the moment which lessens the sensation.  In HypnoBirthing® we call this birth breathing or J breathing. 

  • Allow your body to go loose like a rag doll.

  • Do horse lips – making the sound of a horse.

  • Relax your perineum.

  • Allow the contractions/surges to do the work for you.


These techniques are often helpful for mothers who chose to go un-medicated during birth or have sensation with an epidural.


  • From a fear perspective, I always remind mothers that crowning is one of the shortest parts of the entire journey.  Think about how far you have come up to this point through pregnancy, early labor, active labor, and transition. 

  • You can do anything for a short period of time. 

  • I recommend focusing on holding your baby in a very short period of time. 

  • See and feel your baby in your arms and on your chest.

  • Make eye contact with your partner.  Often mothers will close their eyes and get lost in unhelpful rhetoric racing through their minds.  Look your partner in the eye and draw from their strength.  They believe in you!

Affirmations for crowning:

  • I can do anything for a short period of time.

  • I see my babies head bringing natural anesthesia to my birth opening.

  • I feel the anesthesia spread through my vaginal tissue and I become comfortable.

Wishing you an empowered and informed journey through birth and the expansion of your family.


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