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.

34 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 🙂

  13. I had 3 children with no injuries, no meds and midwife deliveries in US hospitals. They have known this for a long time and tend to be more patient and flexible during labor and birth than doctors are. This is a very important study and should be mandatory reading for all OB-GYN practitioners and nurses. I used to be one of them , too before I became disabled.

  14. When I had my first, I pushed for 2 1/2 hours. It was awful I tore and had stitches. My face had broken blood vessels. When I had my second. I felt like I had to push and the Dr told me but yet. It was so much better. Recovery war so much easier.

  15. I pushed with my first three, two of which were normal homebirths, the third was in a water birth at home. Pushing wore me out and made me feel emotionally exhausted as well. My four, which was also in the water, I just waited and while gravity did its thing. The results were amazing! I didn’t even know how it started, but I was pushing the baby out without any real conscious decision or intense effort. It really changed my entire birthing experience. No tears to speak of (I actually don’t remember if I tore at all). Love that they are finally pushing this method now!!!

  16. I absolutely HATED pushing. My 3rd and 4th were born at home and I maybe pushed once with both labor’s and then stopped bc it was not relieving at all. I let my body naturally push them out. I would rather breathe through contractions than push. No damage to my peri area either and they came in at 8lbs 12oz and 8lbs 5oz. My midwives never once tried telling me to push.

  17. This is at LEAST 33 years old. When I was having my 33 year-old son, my doctor in America told me to breath through several urges to push towards the end so the perineum could stretch and he didn’t even have to cut me. Why? Because he read a British study that said this is what they were doing. And as far as telling someone to push, at some point it’s more of an effort to NOT push because your body is doing it anyway. I never got all that yelling, and all it does it make for an anxious atmosphere, which isn’t good for anyone!

  18. So basically.. The baby does the whole labour? That is mind blowing, but it makes a lot of sense from a spiritual perspective.

  19. Hello everyone
    Thank you Kama for this positive birth story. As a midwife for 13+ years I am saddened that this is new to so many.
    All midwives are trained in physiological birth which is exactly what you are describing here in the second stage of labor. A woman’s body and her baby work together to create the magic of birth.
    The biggest risk to this process is the many many interruptions to this physiology. They can be as unintended as walking into a hospital, to brightly lit birth suites and constant interruptions to the woman’s birth space, to social inductions of labor, to excessive pharmacological pain relief, to coached pushing. True physiological labor and birth is so rare in hospital systems these days that even midwives must fight hard to enable and protect each woman’s unique experience.
    Respect women,
    Respect birth,
    Allow miracles to happen…

  20. This sounds promising. I think the essence of a stress and pain free labour is all about letting it progress naturally. No one should tell you how how do what we innately know how to do. All 3 of my labours were without complication or real discomfort but my last was amazing because I had done hypno – birthing type meditations and it just flowed. The midwives didn’t give me any advice as they couldn’t even tell when I was having contractions. I knew when I was ready to birth my son as I had the urge to breath him out rather than push. Two breaths and he was born – in his protective sac too. Probably the least traumatic and most peaceful birth I could have imagined and all in around 3 hours.

  21. I had 9lb 12 oz (head circumference 38cm) and 9lb 7oz (37cm head circumference) babies and had no tearing with either. My first was a water birth and the 2nd came very quickly (within an hour of waters being broken) but the urge to push with my 2nd was soo intense that the midwives had to slow me down. Never once was I told to push. This was in public hospitals in Western Australia, Australia.

  22. My first birth was a natural one. I wasn’t pushing at all until the nurse told me to “push as hard as I can” so I did. Only to have her yell moments later “STOP” because I ripped myself horribly. I was always really angry about that after, even though it wasn’t her fault, it’s what she was taught. I ripped because I did what she told me to. I’ve always known that. Now here she some facts to support my hunch.

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