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Ring of fire


Avoiding the ring of fire during birth


If you are in your third trimester of pregnancy, you are more than likely going to experience childbirth very very soon.

You may have heard other women talking about something that happens when a woman is in labor.

The ring of fire during birth.

If you have heard of the term then the chances are that someone has probably told you a horror story about what is going to happen to you once you are ready to deliver your baby and your baby’s head is crowning.

Not very helpful if you already have some fears concerning childbirth.

I’ve been through childbirth 4 times (all naturally) and I always make it a point to never listen to anything negative regarding childbirth during the lead up to delivery.

If it’s not going to benefit at that point and time, then what’s the point of me knowing or thinking about “potential” bad stuff that could possibly happen.

You should take that same stance.

Anyway, before I digress too much, let’s get back to talking about this ring of fire that is supposed to be a really dreadful part of childbirth.

If you don’t know what the ring of fire is in birth then let me explain it a little better.


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What does crowning mean in pregnancy?

Crowning and the ring of fire are almost one and the same thing to many people but in reality, they are not.  You might ask why I say that and its simply because you can have one without the other.

It’s possible for your baby’s head to crown without you experiencing the ring of fire, so that means they cannot be one and the same.

The term crowning simply refers to your baby’s head starting to appear at the birthing canal once you are fully dilated.


What is the ring of fire during birth?

The ring of fire during birth quite simply put is the crowning of your baby’s head.

As your baby’s head begins to make an appearance out of your vagina (which is called crowning) there is sometimes a burning sensation.

The burning feeling that you get is from your vagina as it starts to stretch in order to allow your baby an exit path.

It can be incredibly painful for some women and certainly not to be scoffed at!

It’s quite difficult to explain the feeling but I would liken it to trying to do a big poo when you are constipated.

That burning sensation that you feel is pretty similar, only it happens in an even more sensitive bodily area.


If you put your fingers in each side of your mouth and pull, that is also a similar feeling.


If you have already had the unfortunate event of experiencing the ring of fire during birth before then I have to highly recommend that you get yourself a postnatal pregnancy donut cushion. Sitting down after you have experienced the ring of fire or even just after a natural birth is not fun.  Let’s just be honest for a moment because it’s downright PAINFUL.  A donut cushion really can make all the difference.  You can grab yourself one here and thank me later!

So now that we know what the ring of fire is during childbirth, is there a way we can avoid it or at least make it less painful?

There certainly is!

Let’s take a look at some of the things we can do to help.


Ring of fire during birth

Childbirth doesn’t have to be painful. It’s possible to avoid the ring of fire during birth.


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7 Things you can do to avoid the ring of fire during birth.


1. Get that baby in the right position

This is a great little tip and one you can work on before you go into labor.

If you are already in your final trimester of pregnancy you may already have experienced your midwife feeling your stomach to see which way your baby is facing.

There is a very good reason for this.

The best position for your baby to be in is head downwards with the back of their head facing the front of your tummy. 

Having your baby in this position gives you the best chance at an easier labor (if there is such a thing) and your baby’s head crowning less painful.

Baby’s can turn into all kinds of funny positions whilst you are pregnant which is why your doctor or midwife will keep an eye on your baby’s positioning in the last few weeks before you give birth.

If you do find that your baby is in an awkward position for labor then your healthcare professional should be able to go through some options with you. 

If you are looking for some advice on the different baby positions and how to get your baby moving out of a breech position then I would definitely check out Spinning Babies. 

Spinning babies have an amazing guide that you can download online. 

It helps you identify breech fetal positions and gives you exercises to help you get your baby turned into the best possible position for birth

You can get access to the download right here.


2. Water birthing

I know that some people think that water birthing is quite a “hippy” thing to do but honestly it is a really great way to help manage pain during labor and avoid that ring of fire.

I tore during my second pregnancy because I basically did everything wrong and didn’t listen to my own gut feelings.

The mistake I made was that I let other people take control of my birthing even though I was the only one who could experience what I was feeling.

After I tore I was told that the area was now a weakened place and I would likely tear again if I were to go through childbirth again.

What a major blow that was for me to hear.  Perineal tearing is the last thing you want to hear about.

Thankfully I went on to have 2 more births after that and I didn’t tear.

My last 2 births were water births. In all honesty that’s the only way for me to birth in the most comfort.

If you are unsure about water birthing and how it can help you, you should definitely have a read of “The pros and cons of water birthing”.

Having a water birth makes sure that everything is soft and supple making you less likely to get a perineal tear and avoid the stretching feeling that is the ring of fire.


Water birth


3. Breathe

Probably sounds too simple right?

Well in actual fact breathing is a great way to make sure that you get enough oxygen into your body and ensure you are as relaxed as possible.

Taking control of your breathing using some good breathing techniques can help both mother and baby have more strength and energy throughout labor.

You can find out more about breathing techniques for labor here.


4. Slow down

One of the worst things you can do during labor is to try and rush to get your baby out.

You should never push through the pain. Nothing good will come of this.

Not only are you more likely to tear but you will cause yourself incredible amounts of stress and set yourself up on the path of the ring of fire in your birth.

Doctors and midwives are there to guide you during your labor but ultimately they cannot feel what you do and tell you exactly when to push and not too.


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Ring of fire during labor


5. Follow your body

This is almost in line with point number 4.

You have to trust your body and follow its lead. If you feel ready that its time to push then you should.

If you sense that you need to slow down then you should do that.

There is no rule out there that says when you reach the 3rd stage of labor that you have to deliver in the next 5 minutes.

Every woman’s body is different, some deliver quickly whilst others need more time.

I’ll say it again, trust your body and follow its lead.


6. Perineal massage

Perineal massage is another way to help you stay away from the ring of fire during birth.

If you are not familiar with a perineal massage the concept might have you feeling a bit of a strange way.

In all honesty, it is becoming more and more common amongst many pregnant women so don’t be too worried about it.

A perineal massage is basically a massage of the soft skin that is between the vagina and the anus.

One of the benefits of doing this type of massage is that it helps to keep the area stretchy and soft so that it prevents the ring of fire when you are giving birth.

Usually, if a woman is going to tear during pregnancy, that is where it is likely to happen as the babies head begins to crown.



7. Labor in a position that is comfortable for you

This is really important because you must feel as comfortable as possible when those contractions start to come through thick and fast.

If you feel comfortable you are more likely to be relaxed and in control of your body.

The last thing you want to do at this point is tense up.

If you are having a natural birth then feel free to move around as much as you want.

Believe it or not, giving birth lying down is not the easiest way to do it, even if people tend to give birth that way in movies.

If you want to get on to all fours feel free to do so.

You can get a copy of my free contractions tracker printable at the end of this post.


Woman in active labor avoiding the ring of fire



Just remember it’s your labor and you are in control of how you want to give birth.

If you follow these 7 simple tips you will reduce the chances of experiencing the ring of fire in birth.

Follow your body through all the contractions and pushing and before you know it you will have delivered your beautiful baby.


If labor still seems very confusing to you then I would highly recommend that you take the online prenatal class by Pulling Curls.

It really is one of the best online classes out there that both you and your partner can take together at your own pace in the comfort of your own home.

Best of all Hillary who is a labor and delivery nurse will actually answer all your questions throughout and beyond your sessions.

You can take a look at the class here.



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