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Pushing--What's it like?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Any experienced moms want to explain? I've read in various places that you don't need to push at all, that you do need to push and hold your breath, that you need to push in a certain way. It's all very confusing. In bradley class they say to take 2 deep breaths, hold the 3rd and push for 5 seconds. This seems so forced. I guess I'm wondering what does pushing feel like? Did it come naturally to you or did you use a particular method that you learned? Is it hard to do?

Our Bradley teacher also said we should expect with our first birth to push for 2 hours. That seems like so long! And exhausting. Maybe I'm just totally naive. :
post #2 of 34
I took Bradley class, too. Here is my experience...When I pushed I tried to take the 2 deep breaths, then push on the third - I'm honestly not sure if I did that each time or not. It came pretty naturally - you will KNOW when it is time to push. Also, my pushing did take about 2 hours, but the time went really fast - when busy and working really hard at something the time goes pretty quickly. Other people from my class only pushed about 45 min or so. I have heard other people that pushed for much longer, though. Good luck!
post #3 of 34
With the birth of my son, I labored for 4 hours and pushed for 2. I was not watching the clock. I didn't perceive it as going slow or fast. Time just doesn't pass like that.

For me, I described pushing like "shitting a brick". A friend of mine said the same thing but replaced brick with truck. I didn't perceive it as painful, just like incredibly hard work and yes it was exhausting. I've seen it compared physically to running a marathon in some type of medical article. Labor and pushing can literally take that much work. The exhaustion is replaced by exhausted exhilaration when you have your babe in arms.

I did not consciously control my breath. The breathing did seem to come instinctually. The midwife asked me to do 4 pants and then a strong push for the last push- which worked out fine. That's the only actual breathing that she asked me to do. I also took the Bradley classes and found them invaluable.

I labored in the side lying position described in one of the Bradley books. I pushed laying partially on my side. When I was sitting up, it was incredibly painful in my lower back (like a knife), so the midwife suggested going back to a side lying position for pushing. That worked. I never did try squatting- don't know why.
post #4 of 34
well, I think there are two questions here... one is what is giving birth like and the other is about pushing. Giving birth was a lot like passing a Mack truck, but for me, pushing was awesome! I felt so powerful and in control. I was the queen of the universe and I felt great!

I also took Bradley classes and am glad I did. I can understand your concerns about how mechanical it may sound when memorizing it from your book, but it's like learning to run hurdles from reading about it. If you sat and memorized it 'run 13 strides, breath thus and so, on the 14th stride kick your right leg up, blah, blah, blah...' but then you get out on a track with hurdles and go..Oh! Now it makes sense. The thing that is hard to explain is the need to push.. it is intense and it hurts (for many women, anyway) not to push when you are having strong pushing contractions and it feels sssoooooo good to push!

I'm not sure to this day how long I pushed... between 45 minutes and 2 hours is all I can say for sure. It is hard work and some women actually manage to doze off between contractions, although I didn't. The hard work factor is why Bradley recommends you exercise in advance and rest and eat during the early parts of labor. I can't believe I would have felt nearly as good if I had fasted and not had water during my labor.

You are going to be great. Don't worry, it will all make sense.
post #5 of 34
Funny, I've pushed out 4 babies and even with the last baby, I couldn't get my act together when it was time to push. Except for my first baby, I felt no strong urge to push. Maybe it was the Lamaze class I took that made pushing involve all this complicated counting and breathing. I have noticed that with the first baby, the pushing doesn't hurt, exactly, but with subsequent babies it hurts a lot. I hate the typical scene where everyone in the birthingroom is screaming "push! push! push!" like you're at a football game or something. With my first baby, the doctor got held up and everyone was telling me NOT to push, but the baby descended anyway. Once the doctor got there, I pushed maybe two times--for about 5 minutes total and out came ds. So, I don't think you MUST push with every ounce of your strength if you don't want to. But you might want to. This might not be satisfying advice, but the best thing to do is see what your body tells you to do when the time comes.
post #6 of 34
I had a hospital birth and an epidural for my first baby. For me pushing was extremely painful bc the medication was wearing off (don't plan on going that route again) It really helped that my midwife instructed to take a deep breath and let it out, then take another deep breath and push like hell. I've seen women on that show a baby story who don't take the in-between breath and I wonder if they feel like fainting eventually!? I had hand holds and also used a birthing stool part of the time and after dd was born I could not hold her in my arms because I had lost all strength. I guess you could say I have never done that strenuous of physical labor ever before. Many people described it to me that they finally felt good because they had something to focus on or "do". oh, the whole thing really is like trying to "shit a brick" like someone else mentioned It really seems quite unnatural to be pushing so hard...
post #7 of 34
I have had six babies and pushing is my favorite part of labor. To me it wasn't painful, it felt good to do it. It is exausting though. The best advice I've recieved on pushing was to focus the push in the right area. Gritting your teeth, clenching your fists. even using your voice to "push" wastes energy.
Another reason I loved pushing was that it meant it was almost over and I'd be holding my baby soon!

post #8 of 34
The thing about pushing for 2 hours is that when you're 10 centimeters, your contractions stop coming so close together. Mine were coming 5 to 7 minutes apart, so I was resting for 5 to 7 minutes in between.

I cut down on my pushing time by turning around in a squat against the back of the bed (sort of a poop position if you will). That moved the baby 2 centimeters in just a couple of pushes. Then my legs went numb and I had to lay on my back.

I only pushed for 1 hour and 10 minutes (the clock was right in front of my face), but only had to push maybe 12 times total.

I felt no urge to push. If they hadn't put that mirror up in front of me I wouldn't have believed I was making any progress. Try to get a mirror. It makes a world of difference in your resolve to keep going.
post #9 of 34
Ooh, one of my favorite subjects!

I do not beleive that forced pushing is necessary, and I believe that "10 cm.=full dilation= time to push" is a myth. What, is the idea that the baby is never going to come out unless it's forced out? Ridiculous! And who decided that 10 cm. is the magic number anyway! It's so completely illogical to assume that all women's bodies are exactly the same, it makes me crazy to even think about it. Here is a great article on first-time pushing:


I also cannot stand the notion that second stage of labor should be treated like an athletic event with rules no less!

My advice: do not make a conscious effort to push. Wait until your body is already doing it, and if you have an urge to bear down, by all means do so.

My first birth the midwife had me pushing at 10 cm -- well, as the baby and my body were not ready for it, it took two hours of pushing. She was also coaching me on breathing -- lord, how distracting is that -- and exhorting me not to grimace or make loud noises, which of course was what I felt like doing. The whole time I was expected to fight against my body's natural impulses. Oh yeah, that makes sense. Sheesh!

For my second and third births I didn't even check dilation, just let my body do its thing, and I roared and changed positions half a dozen times and roared some more, and oh my what a big surprise, pushing was quick and physically easy (though extreme physical action.)

All right, rant over, and I'll answer your question , what was pushing like? The first time it was like hell. I was on my back, with back labor, and it was unbearable. I was so caught up in just surviving the pain that I never did feel my baby moving down through me. It was all sheer brute effort, and it felt like I was pushing all my organs out along with the baby.

Second and third times... pushing was glorious. I have never felt such a strong biological imperative (well, except maybe when conceiving. ) It felt good that my body was doing what it was supposed to do, it felt good to be just letting it happen. The sensuality of it was incredible. I don't mean that I was sexually turned on, but it was pleasurable in the way that, for instance, having your back scratched or sinking into a hot bath is pleasurable. Only a thousand times more intense. It does feel a little bit like having a bowel movement, in that your muscles are bearing down and pushing out. And then, when the head reaches the perineum, the ring of fire. A definite burning sensation, but it is over quickly, and the relief and release as the body slides out. Quite amazing.
post #10 of 34
I had been laboring in the tub for a good while, an hour or more...
Suddenly I felt this weird sensation, like when you are going to throw up, the part about someone pushing on your tummy and your back at the same time?
Well it was totally involuntary. I wasn't even sure that it was pushing. I had to have my DH call in the midwife to tell me!! it was absolutely something I could not control. I got out of the tub to give birth, as I didn't feel I had comfortable leverage for my feet. I sat up on the bed. My midwife and her assistant asked me to push about three times per contraction.
Important thing to remember is to tuck your chin down. This pushes the energy down below.
I pushed for maybe 45 minutes.. Seemed like 10. Who knows, I was in the zone. The time thing only comes up later on when they tell you how long things took. If you can surrender into being primal birthing woman and go with the flow, trust your body you will not be in any space where time remotly matters! That is for left brain thinking folks! And believe me, you will not be thinking while you are birthing. Hopefully you will be in a place where you feel safe, the lights are dim/low and you are not in a space where you have to defend yourself against anything. Noise, bright lights, distractions, people coming in and out with their own agenda strongly interfere with the smooth progression of labor. (Insert vote for homebirth here )
Anyway it helped me to focus on my third eye from the inside when I was having really strong contractions. But thinking about it wasn't an option.
You just have to go with the flow, wherever it takes you!
Don't worry about it, trust yourself, you can do it!
All the best,
post #11 of 34
I loved when it was time to push! I knew that it meant I was almost done. PLus, when I began to feel the unbelievable urge to push, my contractions no longer hurt. I felt much more in control of the situation all the sudden. Before, the contractions were so overwhelming and I had NO control.

Anyhow, I didn't take any classes that instructed me how to push so I just did what felt natural to my body. When I felt the urge to push, I did, but very mildly. I pushed as much as I felt my body was telling me to and I did not overdue it. I pushed for about 15 minutes and I didn't tear But I also have to credit my dh for giving me perineal massage through out my labor.

I can't stand watching those birth shows where the OB instructs the mother to push even in between contractions. That just seems so unnatural and it looks like it hurts!
post #12 of 34
Yeah, the part about passing a Mack Truck sounds about right....but I also found pushing to be the easiest part of labor...
because my baby really was almost here.

I couldn't not push when the bearing-down sensation began - I pushed for 5 hours with my first, and only about 30 minutes with the second, and it didn't seem to be that much different, nor did it seem more than a few minutes, either time. A couple times, the midwife would ask me not to push, and that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do - truly, it took all the self-control I had to not join in with the work my body was doing.

I didn't try any breathing techniques, only was reminded by DH and the midwife to "breath for my baby" and not hold my breath. The contraction would start, I would bear down with it, and then it would stop and I would rest.
post #13 of 34
What you said about the mirror makes sense, Erin, but it made me laugh. When I was pushing with my second baby, the Dr. brought over a big mirror and told me I had to watch. And I was like, "Gaaah! I don't want to look at that!" The sight of myself was kind of frightening. Anyway, I found the pain to be pretty overwhelming and I made a general announcement that I just couldn't push anymore. So the doctor said, "Well, you can't walk around like this." And the absurdity of that idea sank in (there was that mirror there) so I started to laugh and dd popped out with one more push.
post #14 of 34
I pushed for 2 hrs w/1st - didn't have an irresistible urge to, but it felt right when I did. The contractions sort of fed into the pushes, so when a contraction came, I could use it to push with. Midwife did not yell push, she said "keep it keep it keep it" which made sense at the time.
post #15 of 34
I started to push when I felt like it. I didn't listen to the damned doctor, just myself. It felt great! It was the only way for me to relieve the pain. I loved pushing! The only thing I wish I had done was learn how to push properly. I popped every blood vessel in my face and looked like crap for over a week! All red like I had acne or something! I also got a bad case of hemmorhoids (I'm pretty sure I "pushed" them out! ooh gross!)that really debilitated me during my stay in the clinic.

Edited to add:
I labored for 5 hours, pushed for 2. It's WAS exhausting! But there we were at 7 am, next to the window, and the sun was rising right as I pushed her out. That's the thing I'll remember forever; all the pain was washed away by the sun shining through the window!
post #16 of 34
Oh, ParisMaman -Ouch! I was only ruptured two little tiny blood vessels, in the white part of each eye, with my first. I was very, very surprised that I didn't give myself hemmorhoids.

My midwives tried to show me how to push with the first baby - she put her fingers in my vagina and told me to "push against this" I just couldn't figure it out. My DH say my confusion, and put his hand on my bottom, and said " Honey, push like you need to poop really bad" THAT I could understand!
post #17 of 34
I pushed for 10 minutes, 3 pushes and out he came! But I held on for a very long time before actually doing any pushing.
It was definitely the easiest part of that 20 hours!

But I don't think one can actually describe the sensation. It's exactly like you are passing a 7lb (or more or less) squiggly wiggly beautiful baby! AMAZING!

Thanks for asking (it brought back so many wonderful memories - like mom standing at the foot of the bed with the camera as dh kissed and massaged me waiting for this miracle to appear) and I can't wait to hear how it was for you.
post #18 of 34
pushing is great because it means it is almost over. I pushe for 9 min. with my first one and 12 with my second on but I had no space between my contractions.

When it is time to push you won' t be able to stop it.

IYou push the smae way you would push a turd out. Same feeling, same musckes.

good luck.
post #19 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your replies! I think I was over-intellecutalizing it all a bit. Seems like the best thing is just to listen to your body and do what feels right at the time.

Sweetwater, thanks for the link to that article, that was awesome! :cool:
post #20 of 34
You're welcome!

A few more comments:

It's pretty commonly accepted in both obstetrics and midwifery that the mother is in transition when the contractions are on top of each other and the mother goes into a "laborland" sort of trance. But my contractions never got closer than a few minutes apart and I was completely lucid throughout. Imagine my surprise when suddenly my body was pushing the baby out! And I've since read many other stories of unhindered labors in which labor progresses in the same way.

It is also common for the mother to get to that point where the contractions are on top of each other, but if she does not push at that time, the labor will soon after slow down. I think Gloria Lemay talks about this in that article? I don't remember, it's been a while since I've read it. Anyway, this happened with my second birth, and it was wonderful because it gave me a rest before the intensity of pushing.

Also, you mentioned breathing techniques... this is something else that I don't believe in. It may be helpful in maintaining control over an unnatural situation, I don't know. What I do know is that in a normal birth in which the mother is not being burdened with stressful outside influences, the body will take care of itself. If going "he he he ha ha ha" during labor was what our bodies truly needed, we would already have the instinct to do so.
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