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So you want to know how to push during childbirth but no one is really able to tell you how exactly you’re supposed to do that?
Or maybe you keep being told nothing other than “listen to your body” and “breathe your baby out”, and you’re about to lose your marbles?
Don’t worry mama…I’ve got you covered!
Oh! Before I continue…I recently got the opportunity to interview 9 moms on their experiences with tearing during childbirth.
They were also all kind enough to share words of wisdom for some of you mamas out there who are worried about tearing. 😉
My To do and Not to do list for my daughter Samaiya’s birth looked a little something like this:
1) DO deliver a healthy baby
2) DO NOT give into epidural offers
3) DO NOT (BY ANY MEANS) TEAR VAGINA OR ANYTHING ELSE NEAR IT
4) DO NOT POOP OR FART (nurses will discuss this in lunchroom forever and everyone will know who you are for the wrong reasons and hubby will be totally grossed out and forever joke about how you totally crapped yourself)
I’m sure many of you can relate to this.
I wanted to try my hand at natural childbirth but I had no idea what it was going to be like.
I started doing a lot of research about how to push during childbirth and avoid tearing about half way through my pregnancy.
All I wanted was to get her out naturally and quickly without totally ruining my crotch... and crapping myself. My days during my 3rd trimester were spent practice pushing on the toilet.
I read many articles and joined several “natural birth” forums and got so overwhelmed and confused.
I kept feeling like the only ones on those forums were crunchy hippie-ish mommies (no offense to my crunchy hippie-ish mamas out there), but it’s not all I wanted to hear. It’s the HOW that I needed to know.
What the heck did listen to your body and breathe your baby out even mean? Anybody? Anybody??
To give you a better idea of why it is important that your muscles remain relaxed, let me tell you a quick story.
When I was giving birth to my daughter Samaiya, I was SO worried about pooping and farting during labor (you’re basically using the same groups of muscles),
that I was squeezing my bum shut super tight while trying to push her out of my vagina *facepalms*. 😏 Did you just try doing that on your computer chair just now?
Yes, you. LOL. See how it’s practically impossible???
At the time I had no idea that I was forcing my pelvic floor muscles into a round of tug-of-war and as a result, I pushed hard and for longer than I really needed to.
After a pep talk from my dear husband, I began pushing properly. I did poop but the nurses swiftly cleaned me up. It was as if it never even happened!
By the time she came into the world, I was exhausted and she had a cone head ☹ (which disappeared a couple of days after the birth).
With my son, I was A LOT more relaxed and aware of what my body was doing and what I was doing, so his birth took about 20 minutes, he didn’t end up with a cone head, and I wasn’t exhausted from pushing. Oh, and I didn’t poop (hehehe).
To tell you the truth, it took going through both my kids’ births to know exactly what all that stuff meant.
It was only clear AFTER I gave birth to my 2nd child, my son Xavier. I literally had my AHA moment right there in that birthing suite.
So I’m here to break it down for you ladies. Here are 5 major tips that will help minimize your chances of tearing during childbirth.
Here we go!
1- Relax your muscles
I had 2 natural births and I can honestly tell you that though the pain is manageable, it’s no joke. To get through it quickly and minimize the risk of medical intervention, it’s important that your muscles remain relaxed throughout your labor. You’ll also want to start eating dates which studies have shown to shorten labor and less risk of intervention!
Naturally, your muscles will react to pain by tensing up so you’ll have to make a conscious effort to keep your muscles as relaxed as possible so that they’re efficient during your baby’s birth.
Now if you’re wondering how the heck you’re supposed “make a conscious effort” while in pain, fear not!
You won’t be doing it alone. Your body’s response to pain will be an increase in production of a hormone called endorphins.
These hormones are a naturally occurring pain-killer that will help you cope with your labor if you don’t have an epidural. Isn’t it amazing what your body can do?
So remember, tense muscles will slow down your labor and can cause you and your baby injury and increase your risk of medical intervention.
If you happen to have trouble relaxing, you can always try dimming the lights, playing some calming music, walking around, getting a massage, taking a warm bath/shower, and meditating.
Sitting and rolling gently on an exercise ball is also great for relaxation as it relieves pressure from your bottom and also facilitates childbirth by open up your pelvis for the baby.
Is baby due any day now? You can get your exercise ball delivered to your doorstep today with Amazon Prime. By using my link, you’ll get a 30 day trial for Amazon Prime for FREE!
It’s never too early to start getting prepared. These are only 3 out of the 9 delivery bag essentials I recommend for a more comfortable labor.
Here are some other ways to help you relax:
– Relax your brow muscles
– Unclench your jaw and open your mouth (Ina May Gaskin, a pioneer in midwifery suggests that there is a direct relationship between your mouth and your pelvic floor in her highly acclaimed book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth)
– Make sounds; whether oooohs or ahhhhhs don’t be shy. Even if you need to growl, go right ahead! Making deep and low sounds help keep your jaw relaxed and also help cope with the pain.
– Relax your pelvic floor muscles. Just imagine emptying your bladder, that’s how you relax your pelvic floor muscles
– Relax your hands and keep your fingers loose and relaxed
– Relax your toes
2- Listen to your body
What the heck does this mean? I didn’t understand what this meant until I went through labor with my son.
Listening to your body means understanding what it’s going through, and letting it do what it needs to on its own.
As long as you don’t take any pain relief drugs, you will feel EVERYTHING.
Did you know that your body can birth your baby without you even pushing? It sure can!
As you reach the final stages of labor aka: transitional labor, you will feel A LOT of pressure on your cervix and your contractions will become a lot stronger, and there will come a point where you can no longer hold back pushing.
These contractions are not only responsible for thinning and dilating your cervix, but they also help your baby move down your birth canal by tightening your uterine muscles.
Let your contractions do the hard work and only jump in when you can no longer resist the urge to push.
Save some of your energy, trust me you’ll need it in the following hours and days to come after the birth!
Your body knows just what to do
Doing too much while your body is already putting an incredible amount of work will leave you feeling exhausted and will increase your risk of injuring your pelvic floor, tearing and possibly needing medical intervention like a C-section, vacuum, forceps, etc…
Now I can’t speak much on laboring with an epi, but some moms have stated that though they don’t feel pain, they do feel some pressure during contractions.
Whether you’re a natural mama or an epi mama, you’ll have to stop pushing once baby’s head starts to crown and/or you feel that burning sensation often referred to as “the ring of fire”.
This is your body telling you to SLOW DOWN. Just breathe and allow Your contractions will help push the baby out. If you have an epi, your doctor will need to coach you.
So yeah, listen and follow your body’s lead.
3- Control your breathing
I didn’t know how important it was to control my breathing until I went through childbirth myself.
Breathing has a direct impact on your body’s response and ability to labor efficiently. Poor breathing directly affects your baby by lowering the amount of blood carrying oxygen to him/her so it is important that you push while breathing calmly and rhythmically.
Some women prefer taking quick, controlled shallow breaths, while others prefer longer deeper breaths. Either way is fine.
Your breathing also directly impacts your body’s physiological response to labor. Rushed, erratic, shallow breathing causes an increase in adrenaline release into your body.
This can halt or stop labor altogether. Breathing and breathing properly is important.
This leads me to my next point…
4- Breathe your baby out
You breathe your baby out by deeply inhaling as your contractions peak, and then deeply exhaling while you contract your abdominal muscles and push your belly downwards as your contractions fade.
You don’t need to push until you can no longer resist the urge.
That is what breathe your baby out means. The slight pressure and the downwards motion along with your contractions will help push your baby down the birth canal and out into the world.
You can practice on the toilet the next time you need to poop by leaning slightly forward as if performing a squat and elevating your feet on a step stool.
Leaning forward and using a step stool will help open up your pelvis. It may sound totally silly but trust me, it’ll give you a good idea of how to push come D-day.
Note: For both my kids, I did end up pushing but that’s only because my body led me to push. I couldn’t control it. I felt a HUGE sense of relief when I did. If your body leads you to push, then go ahead and push!
Don’t hold your breath!
You see it in the movies and on many TV shows. A woman on her back, pushing hard while holding her breath as the doc counts to 10.
This method of pushing is aka “purple pushing”.
It is so incredibly harmful to your pelvic floor, and puts so much unnecessary strain on your entire body. That method is only convenient for one person: the doctor.
Have you ever tried to hold back a big sneeze and gotten a nasty flash headache out of it?
Now think about how nasty that headache is, and compare it to the type of headache you’d get from holding your breath while bearing down with all your might for 20 minutes, 45 minutes, or even hours at a time. Yikes.
5- Be in an upright position
Positioning plays a big role in how you birth your baby. Of course every mom baby and birth is different but some positions do allow for smoother births.
Any position where your pelvis is perpendicular to the ground facilitates childbirth. Some examples are: the standing, squatting, and the supported all fours positions. You want to take advantage of the pull of gravity. If you’re concerned about tearing while being in an upright position such as squatting, have a look at this study.
This will help bring your baby down thus reducing your pushing effort and lowering your chances of tearing. Being in an upright position also opens up your pelvis.
This gives baby more room to move while reducing the risk of distress and eases the pain of contractions.
I can definitely attest to the benefits of birthing in an upright position. I did with my kids and experienced zero tearing and medical interventions.
Because most mamas do opt for epidurals, I do want to mention that position changes during epi births are nearly non-existent due to the lack of mobility.
I found out that some hospitals/birthing centers offer walking epidurals which are supposed to numb most of the pain.
If you choose this option you’ll probably be able to birth in an upright position if you have physical support.
So there you have it! 5 practical tips on how to push during labor and avoid tearing!
Make sure you stock up on your 10 after-birth essentials and download your FREE Postpartum Recovery Essentials checklist to make your life as a new mama a whole lot easier!
I hope that you found these 5 key tips on how to push efficiently during labor helpful!
Until next time,
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If you already had your baby (congrats!!), how was your experience?
If you’re expecting, did you find this post helpful?
Comment below and let me know!!