man and woman in laborWhat do I need to know about pushing during labor and delivery?

Well, the first thing to know about pushing is that it means you’re almost ready to meet your baby!A fascinating thing happens once you’ve gone through “transition” (going from 8 to10 centimeters to become fully dilated, a particularly intense part of labor). That’s when your body takes a natural rest, and contractions often stop for a time in order for you to get a second wind.

When contractions begin again, you will sometimes have an overwhelming desire to push. Go with it. It can actually also help labor and delivery to make deep groans. (An open, relaxed mouth and throat actually open and relax the vagina!)

The most physiologic position in which to push during labor and delivery is either on your hands and knees or in a squatting position. This actually opens up the pelvis several centimeters and gives the baby’s head more room to get through. Discuss with your doctor before the baby is due what options you have for making pushing easier for you.

Pushing too hard and too long can damage the pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, try to avoid the “football coach” approach where well-meaning birth attendants encourage pushing that is too vigorous and in which you hold your breath and purse your lips with determination.

Answered by Dr. Christiane Northrup