Many women who have healthy pregnancies aim to have a vaginal delivery. It's the way moms-to-be have been doing it since the beginning of time, and is touted as the most "natural" method. Admittedly though, the mere thought of pushing a human being through a very small hole can be daunting and downright terrifying for some women, even if it's been done that way forever. As you near your due date you may be trying to figure out how to push during labor and delivery. Thanks to your amazing bodies, it is very possible to push a baby out of a vagina (even though it sounds quite impossible), and there are some effective step by step ways to do it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are more than 2,000,000 vaginal births per year in the United States. That's a whole lot of pushing. And, as you may already know, the actual labor process takes anywhere from eight hours to a full day, as calculated by the American Pregnancy website. Pushing comes right at the end of the last phase of labor, or transition phase when the mom feels pressure or the urge to push. In other words, it isn't like the movies where the woman screams, rushes to the hospital, and is ready to push. It doesn't work like that.
You don't have to be extremely and perfectly primed to push during labor and delivery, but having a step by step guide will help you mentally prepare a bit for showtime. Here are nine tips on how to push for labor and delivery.
1. Get Your Partner, Friend, Or Family Member Involved
Before you even go into labor you should tell whoever will be with you during the birthing process to plan on being very involved.
"A partner, friend, or family member can help distract the woman in labor by taking short walks with them, watching movies, and playing games with them," OB-GYN Dr. Mira Aubucon, with The Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine, tells Romper in an interview. "They can also help time the contractions which is a huge help." As the labor progresses the level of help with become more involved.
"The partner or helper can massage the woman's shoulders in between contractions, offer her comfort and words of support, especially when it gets to the pushing stage," Aubuchon says.
2. Listen To Your Nurse Or Midwife Before You Push
There are two approaches to labor pushing according to Baby Center. The site noted that one approach is coached pushing, which is often directed by a nurse or midwife and widely practiced at many hospitals in the United States. The other is spontaneous pushing which basically means your body's urges are your guide. Whatever way you're going to do it, it's advised that you listen to your nurse or midwife before you attempt any pushing — spontaneous or not.
3. Act Like You Have To Poop
What To Expect recommended that you push like you're pushing out a poop. The site noted that you should relax your thighs and put all of your focus into pushing. That means not worrying about whether or not you'll actually poop or pee on the table. It happens and the people helping you during your birthing process won't bat an eyelash about it.
4. Tuck Your Chin Into Your Chest
The previously mentioned Baby Center post recommended that women who are pushing and lying on their backs in a propped position should tuck their chins in. Apparently it helps you focus your pushes in the direction they need to go. The site also suggested that women in this position look past their belly button as a way to help them remember where the pushes should be coming from.
5. Change Positions If Needed
Unless you're an avid yogi downward facing dog is probably not in your cards, but it's all about listening to what's best for your body. Fit Pregnancy noted that women should change positions whenever they feel the need to throughout the course of labor. It should be done freely and in whatever manner feels best. You'll need help to change positions so it's best to consult your nurse or midwife first before you make a move.
6. Use All Of the Strength You Can Muster
This one pretty much goes without saying, but labor isn't the time to hold back. It takes incredible strength to go through the labor and birthing process and sometimes it ain't "pretty." This is why Fit Pregnancy recommended that pregnant moms check their modesty and vanity at the door. They also said a big entourage can slow down labor because the some moms get focused on their modesty and not their mobility.
7. Try To Rest Between Contractions
Pushing is obviously extremely intense and requires a whole lot of strength, focus, and energy. The aforementioned What To Expect article recommended that moms in the pushing phase rest in between contractions as a way to conserve energy.
8. Stop Pushing If Told To
If you're completely wiped and are not producing successful pushes your doctor, nurse, or midwife might suggest you not push. What To Expect explained that some women are told to stop pushing to regain strength or to keep the baby's head from being born too rapidly. The site suggested moms in this position should pant or blow air if they feel the urge to push.
9. Remember To Breathe
It may sound over-simplified or even hokey to some, but breathing can really get you through pretty much anything. According to the American Pregnancy Association, breathing during labor can help you relax, release tension in certain muscles, and provide much needed oxygen to mom and baby.
It's not expected that you'll remember all of these steps, but at least being mentally prepared to push before labor can go a long way. Enduring labor and childbirth might be one of the hardest things you'll ever do, but having road map can't hurt. The labor and birthing journey is different for every mother and embracing these unique experiences will be the most important step of all.