I wish this personal anecdote was unique but I know from what midwives have told me from many different maternity units that it is not. Bergstrom et al. (2009) published their paper on birth talk taken from their ori ginal study (1992) on the second stage and found very sim ilar language in use nearly twenty years ago. I added their description of ‘cheerleading’ to the first quota tion above – Go! Go! Go! Go! One wonders how women delivered babies over millennia without the stern, exhorting voice of the midwife or birth attendants, coaching her every step of the way. Why does this practice happen? Is it that women no longer have confidence in their own abil ity to ‘do’ the second stage without instruction on how to breathe and how to push? Is it that the birth attendants don’t trust women to do it themselves? And what are the attendants worried about: is it the length of the second stage per se, or is it pos sible detrimental effects on the baby or the mother or both? Would the baby eventually be born if the attendant said nothing and left women to their own devices? Apart from concerns that midwives may have about whether a woman will push effect ively, I suspect much of the language around the second stage is a result of a habitual way of relating. How else to explain the rapid assimilation of the mantra by new labour ward staff that seem to know it off pat after a few days? It has colonised maternity units all over the world and has a profound legacy in modern folklore about labour and birth.