Pregnant women take classes, watch movies and ask questions about pushing, but until a woman is in active labor, she will have no idea how strong the pressure and the need to push really is. Learning some tips for effective pushing can lessen time spent in labor. 

  • Push as if trying to have a large bowel movement. The same muscles responsible for moving waste out of the body work to push baby out of the uterus. 
  • Never hold your breath. As long as mom is breathing, baby is breathing. Holding your breath to push harder can actual cut off baby’s oxygen supply. 
  • Pull the chin to the chest. This is especially important when sitting up during labor. Looking at the pubic area can help mom focus on where the brunt of her pushes should be located. 
  • Rest between contractions. The female body can take a lot, but pushing is hard work. Resting between contractions does not mean you’ll be able to sleep, but closing your eyes and drifting away to a mental comfort spot may be helpful. 
  • Stop pushing when burning starts. When the baby’s head crowns, the vagina needs a little time to stretch out. If the woman pushes too early, tearing could be more painful than it needs to be. 
  • Don’t push unless you feel like pushing. More and more women are choosing a no push labor. As long as baby is healthy and strong in the birth canal, contractions of the uterus should push the baby out on its own.
  • Don’t worry about pain medications and pushing. Epidurals only take away the worst of the pain, mom will still feel the pressure associated with each contraction. At the peak of the contraction, the need to push will be strong in most cases. 

Pushing baby through the birth canal is part of a vaginal birth. Whether a woman chooses to have pain medicated or natural birth, she will feel strong pressure that creates a sudden urge to “get it out”. Most women note that giving birth feels like having a large bowel movement.