7 Practical ways to Avoid The Ring of Fire During Birth

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If you have had a baby or if you are having one in near future, you might have heard about the term the ring of fire during birth. Not to worry if you don’t know what it is. Read on to learn all about it plus get tips on how to avoid the ring of fire during birth. 

7 Practical ways to Avoid The Ring of Fire During birth- the ring of fire

If you are in your third trimester, you may have your birthing plan ready, your hospital bag packed, started thinking about your labor and wondering what it might feel like. You might have heard about the term ‘the ring of fire during childbirth’ from someone who have had a baby before.

I heard about the term “the ring of fire during birth” in my third trimester from a colleague at work who recently had a baby.

She described the feeling as a fire burning in a circle in your vagina right before childbirth. Since then, it stayed in my mind till my labor and delivery.

This conversation didn’t help when I already had a fear about childbirth. Anxiety of something that I was going to experience in near future started worrying me more.

While labor is different for every woman and every woman experience pain and discomfort in different way, for me, it was like intense burning sensation down there like someone pulling it apart.

After going through two labor and delivery, now I know how ‘the ring of fire’ feels like.

While I agree that it feels very intense but take solace in knowing that it is very transient and there are things that woman can do to make this ring of fire burning sensation more bearable during childbirth.

So, without a further ado, lets talk everything about the ring of fire during childbirth and what you can do to avoid the ring of fire during birth.


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What is the Ring of Fire during Birth?

The ring of fire is nothing but a crowning in the birthing process. When your baby’s head became visible in the birth canal (crowning), stretching of vaginal tissue creates an intense burning sensation. This is where the term ‘the ring of fire’ comes from.

It is can be incredibly painful for some woman. To just give you an idea of feeling, try putting one finger on the edge of each side of your lips and try pulls it apart- the sensation is pretty similar.

However, every woman experiences pain differently so it may not be that intense for you like it was for me.

When does the Ring of Fire happen?

The ring of fire happens during the second stage of labor, when your baby makes appearance in your vaginal opening, but baby’s head is not born yet.

At this point, your vaginal tissues need to stretch in order to help your baby’s head to fit. It is when you feel intense burning sensation around your vaginal opening.

It happens when you are fully dilated and usually it is a sign that baby is couple of contractions away. At this point, you can see your baby’s head down with mirror or reach down and touch your baby’s head.

Recommended Readings: Can Pushing Hard to Poop cause Labor? Find out here!

How long the Ring of Fire lasts during Labor?

7 Practical ways to Avoid The Ring of Fire During Childbirth-women looking at the baby after childbirth

When baby is crowning, some woman feels burning or stinging sensation. This feeling may last few seconds or longer depending on type of labor you are having.

If you have chosen epidural for pain management during your labor, you may experience more of a pressure rather than a burning sensation or not that intense burning sensation. It depends on amount of pain reliever you are receiving.

However, it doesn’t mean you need epidural for your labor and delivery to avoid the ring of fire sensation.

Don’t let fear of labor pain dictate how you want your labor and delivery to go.

You have gone through so much so far and this can pass too!!

During vaginal delivery, your vaginal tissues need to stretch or tear in order for baby to exit the birth canal. So, feeling of burning sensation most likely means that your vaginal tissues are stretching rather than tearing. No one wants tearing!!

And once you feel the ring of fire, your baby is few contractions away.

When baby is crowning during second stage of labor, two things happens. First, you feel strong contraction and the bodily urge to push and second, intense burning sensation in vagina telling you not to push.

I chose to push when I first felt the ring of fire and that intensified the burning sensation even more and I can describe that pain as an intense burning sensation that I have never ever experienced in my life before!!

Reason being, when you are pushing during the ring of fire, you are tearing the vaginal tissues rather than allowing them to stretch naturally.

Best course of action when you feel the ring of fire during childbirth is to slow down, breathe and relax and not push.

I know, it is easy to be said than done, but trust me, not pushing when you feel the ring of fire, makes your postpartum recovery faster by not allowing your vagina to tear.

I agree that, it hurts pretty bad. But good thing is, it is short-lived, and you feel numbness right after it is over. The numbness comes from the blockage of vaginal nerve by baby’s head stretching the vaginal tissue so thin.

Some woman feel that the ring of fire is given when you choose natural childbirth, but it doesn’t have to be. There are certain things that you can do to avoid the ring of fire during childbirth.

Recommended reading : 44 Positive Birth Affirmations to Empower you during Labor

7 Practical ways to Avoid the Ring of Fire During Birth

While you may not completely avoid the ring of fire during natural childbirth, but you can certainly lessen the intensity of pain. Here are the tips to make pain less of a possibility.

1. Slow down

While you can’t wait to have that baby out of your body, rushing to push makes your labor pain worst. In fact the ring of fire intensify when your perineum stretches too fast. So it is best to slow down when you feel the burning sensation during the second stage of labor.

Pushing through the pain will more likely cause your vagina to tear, so slow down and let the stress release.

2. Perineal Warm Pack

Applying moist, warm pack during second stage of labor is very effective in soothing the ring of fire during childbirth. This is an evidence-based approach to relieve the perineal pain during childbirth and it helps increase the comfort of laboring woman.

In a randomized controlled trial (Warm Pack trial) in 2007, 360 Australian woman received a warm pack therapy to their perineum during second stage of labor and were asked to fill out questionnaires about the effect of the warm pack on pain, perineal trauma, comfort and more along with their midwives who applied the warm pack to their clients.

The study concluded that the practice of applying perineal warm packs in the late second stage of labor was highly acceptable and effective in soothing the ring of fire during childbirth and increase comfort (1).

3. Water Birth

Giving birth in water help lessen the burning sensation during crowning. Water helps keep area soften and makes it easier to stretch during second stage of labor.

In a water birth, woman remain in the water during the pushing stage of labor and actual birth of the baby.

The research studies published in 2014 showed that a people who had water births had a higher rate of intact perineum compared to those who had land births (2).

A small comparative research study published in 2018 compared 66 woman who had water birth was associated with a decreased likelihood of perineal injury and a higher rate of breastfeeding initiation in the delivery room compared to those who had a conventional birth and woman who received epidural (3).

f you are looking for an evidenced based information about water birth before making a decision whether to go for it or not, read THIS article.

4. Perineal Massage

Perineal massage during late stage of pregnancy and during stages of labor can help your stay away from the ring of fire during birth.

There are several scientific studies that shows the benefit of perineal massage as a muscle stretching exercise in reducing perineal trauma during natural childbirth (4-7).

The concept of perineal massage may sound strange but surprisingly it is very common among pregnant woman as a preventive measure.

It usually involves massaging the soft skin between the vagina and the anus with oils or Vaseline or other lubricant during late stage of pregnancy and during first and second stage of labor to help keep muscles stretchy and soft (6).

5. Breathing Exercises

During contraction, uterus muscle contracts and tightens. This will restrict blood flow and oxygen to the surroundings. The lack of oxygen causes pain.

Breathing is a great way to ensure you are getting enough oxygen into your body to ease pain and stress. Breathing steadily and relaxing throughout your labor can make labor much more bearable. This is the reason why learning breathing technique during those Lamaze classes are so important.

Breathing slowly and deeply throughout your labor allows your body and uterine muscles to relax.

Another reason why breathing deeply and slowly is important because when you are focusing hard on your breathing when you feel the ring of fire, chances are you may forget about how bad you are hurting for a second. So, win win!!

6. Birthing Positions

7 Practical ways to Avoid The Ring of Fire During Childbirth

Before you go in labor, make sure you learn about different birthing position that may help ease the pain and stress of delivery.

You need to find a birthing position where you feel most comfortable when contraction start to come. When you are more comfortable, you are more likely to be relaxed.

If you haven’t taken a childbirth class yet, you may not be aware of labor position other than laying on your back and giving birth as you have seen on TV. It is actually the hardest birthing position for pushing.

Giving birth in side lying position, semi sitting position or getting on your all four, rebozos or shower are all considered ideal position during labor. If you are going for natural childbirth, you can walk around your room as much as you can.

While squatting position during labor is not considered ideal, as it may increase the chances of vaginal tear.

7. Getting Educated

If you are a first-time mom-to-be, labor may sound too scary and confusing. But knowing what to expect during vaginal delivery can help you tremendously to easy the fear of unknown.

Learning what to expect at each stage of labor, birthing positions, breathing techniques and choice you have for your labor and delivery can not only prepare you but empower you when time comes.

For instance, after reading this post you know what to do when you feel the ring of fire during childbirth, right?

‘Slow down, breathe and relax’

Knowledge make all the difference after all !!

If you still haven’t considered childbirth class yet, I highly recommend you taking the online prenatal class for couples by Pulling curls.

This class is thought by Hilary Erickson – a labor and delivery nurse of 18 years and best part is she will answer all your question throughout and beyond the session.

It is really comprehensive and affordable childbirth class out there that you and your partner can take from comfort of your own home.If you are not sure yet, try Free Beginning Prenatal Class offered by her.

If you are looking for other options for childbirth classes, read my reviews on

Do you still feel the Ring of Fire with an Epidural?

Most likely you will feel pressure down there with or without dull burning sensation depending on the amount of pain reliever you are receiving.

I have experienced the ring of fire with and without epidural so I can explain how it actually feels.

During my first labor, I received an epidural for pain management. When baby was crowning, I felt an extreme pressure on vagina followed by bodily urge to push. When I tried pushing, I felt stinging sensation. For me, I felt the burning sensation only when I tried pushing through the pain rather than breathing and relaxing.

So, most likely you won’t feel intense burning sensation if you receive epidural for pain management.

Final Thoughts

The ring of fire during childbirth is a stinging or burning sensation some woman experiences when baby’s head make appearance in the birth canal during vaginal delivery.

While it is very painful for some mamas compared to other, follow these 7 tips to avoid or lessen the intensity of pain when baby’s baby’s head is crowing.

Just remember to slow down, breathe deeply and relax when you feel the ring of fire and good news is once you feel it you are few contractions away meeting your baby.

And who know, you may be lucky one not to feel the ring of fire. But it is always great to learn about what to expect during your labor. So, if you haven’t yet, consider taking childbirth class.

You have got this mama!!

Do you have any tips on how to avoid the ring of fire during childbirth? Please leave your comment below.

Before you go, check out these articles to naturally induce labor (because I know you will need it!)


  1. Dahlen HG, Homer CS, Cooke M, Upton AM, Nunn RA, Brodrick BS. ‘Soothing the ring of fire’: Australian woman’s and midwives’ experiences of using perineal warm packs in the second stage of labour. Midwifery. 2009;25(2):e39-e48. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2007.08.002
  2. Dahlen HG, Homer CS, Cooke M, Upton AM, Nunn RA, Brodrick BS. ‘Soothing the ring of fire’: Australian woman’s and midwives’ experiences of using perineal warm packs in the second stage of labour. Midwifery. 2009;25(2):e39-e48. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2007.08.002
  3. Lathrop A, Bonsack CF, Haas DM. Women’s experiences with water birth: A matched groups prospective study. Birth. 2018;45(4):416-423. doi:10.1111/birt.12362
  4. Seehusen DA, Raleigh M. Antenatal perineal massage to prevent birth trauma. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(5):335-336.
  5. Demirel G, Golbasi Z. Effect of perineal massage on the rate of episiotomy and perineal tearing. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015;131(2):183-186. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2015.04.048
  6. Geranmayeh M, Rezaei Habibabadi Z, Fallahkish B, Farahani MA, Khakbazan Z, Mehran A. Reducing perineal trauma through perineal massage with vaseline in second stage of labor. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2012;285(1):77-81. doi:10.1007/s00404-011-1919-5
  7. Perineal Massage in Pregnancy. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2016;61(1):143-144. doi:10.1111/jmwh.1242

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