Women in Labor Stop Pushing, See Amazing Results

The staff at this hospital initiated a project to stop telling women to push.What if we stopped telling women to push when they’re in labor? That’s the philosophy behind a new program at a U.K. hospital, and the results are amazing.

If you’ve ever seen a woman delivering a baby in a movie or a television show, you have heard the rallying cry: “Push!” If you’ve had a baby yourself, you’ve likely heard it too.

Related: Twin Sisters Give Birth to Baby Boys On the Same Day!

The staff at Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent initiated a project to stop telling women to push. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives put out a call for action after seeing a sharp rise in severe perineal tearing affecting nearly 14,000 women in 2013 to 2014.

Over a 12-month period after the program was implemented, the incidence of women with severe tearing went down from 7% to 1%. How have they gotten such amazing results? Largely, simply by not asking women to push when they are in labor.

Guidelines also discourage women from staying on their backs in labour — they are encouraged to try alternate positions. Women are also encouraged to slow down during labor, and nurses coach them to breathe through contractions instead of pushing.

Midwives were also discouraged from pulling a baby out once their shoulders emerged and instead supporting the baby’s weight as it emerges, all of which reduces pressure on the perineum. Holding a hand against the perineum while the baby crowns and is born also provides important counterpressure and support for the perineum.

Related: 11 ACOG Recommendations That Could Improve Maternity Care

The program has been so successful at Medway that the results were published in the European Journal Of Obstetrics & Gynaecology And Reproductive Biology, and there are plans to roll it out nationally.

The results of this program and study won’t come as a shock or surprise to many midwives and obstetrical care providers, but it is great news for women everywhere that these methods are finally getting formal recognition as the better, safer way for women to labor.


24 thoughts on “Women in Labor Stop Pushing, See Amazing Results”

    1. Hey Margo! If you click on the link in the article for European Journal Of Obstetrics & Gynaecology And Reproductive Biology, it will take you the the study abstract.

    1. Hey Gemma: The study is titled “Can the incidence of obstetric anal sphincter injury be reduced? The STOMP experience.” The link in the article will take you the the abstract.

      1. Hearing about 9 lb babies and little to no tears is awesome. I think this is so great if they would begin to realize this. I know everybodies akin is different but…….My first delivery in the hospital with a 6 lb 7 oz. baby. The heads of both my kids were not much bigger than my husband’s fist. The ob/gyn wanted me to hold breathe and push. Bad idea, no reason to rush. Coached pushing is so the norm in hospitals here in the US. I advocate no coached pushing after my 3rd degree tears then stiches. Was that really necessary?

      2. Hearing about 9 lb babies and little to no tears is awesome. I think this is so great if they would begin to realize this. I know everyone’s skin is different but…….My first delivery in the hospital with a 6 lb 7 oz. baby, the ob/gyn wanted me to hold breathe and push. The heads of both my kids were not much bigger than my husband’s fist. Bad idea, no reason to rush. Coached pushing is so the norm in hospitals here in the US. I advocate no coached pushing after my 3rd degree tears then stiches. Was that really necessary?

  1. The author has a bachelors in midwifery? As an RN I have never heard of such a thing. To my knowledge one must be an RN before getting a masters in midwifery in order to be a midwife…

    1. If you look on the university’s website you will see that they offer a Midwifery Bachelor’s degree. It does not have a prerequisite of RN. She also lives in Canada, and that may change what is required for specific programs.

    2. Hi Sarah! Yes, I have a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in midwifery. It is most definitely a thing. 🙂 Ryerson University also offers a post-baccalaureate program for health professionals, such as RNs. If you’re interested, here is some more information on the program: http://www.ryerson.ca/midwifery/

    3. In the UK, direct entry midwifery is normal. BSc in Midwifery is not unusual at all. Many RMs (registered midwives) are also nurses, but it is not required.

      Also, for the editor, ‘nurses’ do not coach women to push or not – Midwives provide care for all women in the UK, with appropriate referral to higher level of obstetric care when clinically indicated. We simply dont use nurses for labour.

  2. When I was in labour, I got told to push and I didn’t feel the urge to push at all. It was the most stressful part- I was being told ‘push when you feel the urge’ but I didn’t feel the urge so they just told me to push! I pushed for an hour and eventually they had to perform an episiotomy.. i wonder whether I had to push at all?

  3. The midwife supporting my perineum at the birth of my second child was a revelation! 😲
    It made the experience so much more tolerable –
    and felt to me as if it alleviated a substantial amount of torture-like sensation (like a ‘Chinese burn’?) round the vagina during the birth of my first born.
    In my experience – it should be COMPULSORY in midwifery training.

    1. I find a lot of these comments interesting. It’s amazing to see how different OB practice is depending on your region. I’ve been a OB RN in the NorthWest (USA) for 10 years now. And since the very beginning of my practice providers have always encouraged the mom to slow down her pushing, breathe and ease the baby’s head out. I’ve never seen them encourage anything different. Most of our providers take pride in not cutting episiotomies and love when the birth is controlled, preventing tears, specially 3rd/4th degree tears. When a mom does incurre a 3/4th degree, the providers usually have a sense of guilt over it, like they feel bad and wonder what they could have done differently. Sometimes there’s nothing they could have done. That urge to push is primal and some women cannot control it, no matter how hard they try

  4. That is wonderful! I was always told to push at the wrong times due to the monitors being slightly delayed. With my last baby, I didn’t tell them the baby was coming for fear they would start coaching how to push. I found it wasn’t even really necessary to focus on pushing, more like the effort of blowing hard a few times as long as I did it when it felt right. A midwife poked her head in the door a few minutes before the birth and grabbed gloves, so that was nice, but the nurses thought I was in early labor. All went well and the baby was born so easily and much more quickly in comparison to the four previous ones where there was a circus of people yelling push and don’t push and causing me to work against nature. Much better and safer though if the mother can say the baby is coming without fear of birthing attendants trying to manage how it proceeds. Also nice if you can rock, or roll over onto your side or knees instead of staying on your back, very helpful.

  5. My midwives always instructed “DO NOT PUSH” with all my births but instead blow through the contractions. Three sons: 10 lb 8 oz, 10 lbs and 9 lbs 6 oz and not even a hint of a tear!

  6. This is not new news. As a former childbirth educator, Bradley and otherwise, for 25 years beginning in 1978…I taught this over-strenuous ‘don’t push’ for many years. (it was invented by nursing staffs in the first place). The midwives I worked for used to support gentle breathing…no forced pushing/bearing down for extended period of a contraction)…the M.D. I liked best practiced it as well. Women who are connected with the practical aspects of birthing, and want optimum health through a good labor..know who to find for that. The mainstream will jump to conclusions…by creating this headline showing a new discovery. It’s not new. It works, that’s important….but to deny that this happened before now is creating an self-indulged generation who can’t reach back as far as last Tuesday for valuable information to their benefit. Thanks.

  7. I’m sorry. I had 4 natural labors. And when I think it’s bs to listen to a doctor when they think it’s time to push. I know when I have that feeling that the kid is stuck in my ass all I want to do is push it the hell out. 😂😂😂😂

  8. Its interesting reading the comments above. I’ve been a midwife for 15 years and work at medway maritime hospital where STOMP is not a preferred method of coaching a delievery but a necessity.
    The woman can go with nature as much she wants but the most crucial time to encourage a woman not to push is as the head is advancing and almost crowning. It does go against the natural urge to push but with the slow delivery of the head with excellent communication, pressure on the perineum with warm swabs completely guarding it and fingers gently placed on the babies head allows you to assess and coach efficiently. It completely controls the speed of the delivery. Once the head is delivered there is no gentle traction to deliver the shoulders and the mum births the shoulders and body with the midwife just supporting the baby which alleviates the pressure on the perineum.
    At medway we have over 5000 births a year and last month we had just 1 tear that exceeded a 2nd degree tear.
    A woman’s ability to control the delivery never fails to amaze me and to go against your natural instincts is a huge achievement. We’re very proud to see such positive changes in the interest of a safer birth with minimal trauma x

  9. Well massive big up for The Rosie in Cambridge, and the Norfolk and Norwich, who both adopted this approach for my children’s births in 2004 and 2007. No tears for me with either birth.

  10. It’s great that info like this is finally coming out. Whenever the medics interfere, you can almost certainly guarantee problems. Medicine understand nothing about health. Nature is already perfect.

  11. My last child was born at home with a midwife in attendance 33 years ago – my second birth in 16 mos. I was only in labor an hour and a half and he felt like he was coming out like a freight train. My midwife put her hand on my perinium, locked eyes with me and said “don’t push! Breathe!” I did as told and she stretched me and eased him out slowly, a big headed 8 lb boy. I didn’t have a nick or tear on me. I’m grateful to have had the benefit of her experience and good advice.

  12. Need to stop giving women drugs too. To speed it up then when mother is exhausted or baby’s not ready To come out you get the c sec.let nature take its own course. Slow it down relax. Oh and yes…3 kids 🙂

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