All About Pushing During Labor

Despite what the media likes to depict, pushing while lying flat on your back during labor may not the most comfortable, helpful or efficient way to birth a baby. According to the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, "Upright positions such as standing, kneeling, or squatting take advantage of gravity to help your baby move down into the pelvis. Squatting increases the size of the pelvis, providing more room for the baby to move down (N. Johnson, V. Johnson, & Gupta, 1991; Simkin & Ancheta, 2005)."

Additionally, the outdated holding-your-breath-and-count-to-10-and-PUSH! method of pushing is not ideal. Also known as "purple pushing" (because your face turns purple when you hold you breath!), this style of pushing is often used in many hospital labor rooms, but it can deprive your body of oxygen, add undue stress to you and your baby, and increase your risk for perineal tears and further weaken your pelvic floor muscles after birth. A healthier way to push is to follow your body's instincts and cues to push, taking breaks when needed and bearing down when you feel the urge.

Want to learn more by seeing examples? Watch this helpful video, created by Lamaze, which shows women birthing in hospitals-- with and without epidurals -- using different positions for pushing.



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