how to push

Birth Like A Badass Part 1: Grunt That Baby Down

Photo by Tim Bish on Unsplash

Contributed by Ashley Brichter who is a Childbirth Educator, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula and Mom of Two

I’m late to the party here, but we really can’t talk about childbirth these days without calling upon Serena Williams. The thing is, I referenced Serena Williams in my birthing preparation classes long before she had a baby. I referenced her because as long as she has been in the public eye, she has been modeling how to use our bodies well! In my classes, preparing for birth is all about learning to use your body well. If you watch Serena Williams play, you know we exhale with effort. That GRUNT makes her so powerful! Since suffering with health complications after giving birth to her daughter, Serena Williams fortunately and unfortunately taught us another childbirth-relevant lesson: you are your own best advocate!


When Pushing, Exhale with Effort or Grunt That Baby Down!

Breathing is hands-down the most important coping strategy for labor and delivery. Being well oxygenated will allow your muscles—especially your uterus—to function properly. The best part of deep breathing as a coping strategy is that it is always available to you! Here’s how to use your breathe for pushing specifically.

When you feel an urge to push (it will feel like rectal pressure because the baby’s final descent is very much like sh*%ing out a coconut), take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale with an open mouth as you push down into your pelvic floor muscles (finding a bulging sensation in your vagina). You can think about moving a french press from the top of your belly down to your feet with your exhale. You can make that exhale a grunt, Serena Williams style or you pretend you’re blowing out birthday candles across the room. The key is to make your exhale longer than your inhale and to NOT hold your breath. Holding your breath (a commonly taught and hospital-approved pushing technique) will deprive your uterus and baby of oxygen. Maternal oxygen can prevent non-reassuring fetal heart rate patterns. Always exhale on exertion. You want to give yourself permission to make some noise, just like you’re on a tennis court! FWIW, cuing into your pelvic floor muscles and coordinating exertion with your breath before labor can help prevent tearing!


Looking for Childbirth Education? Learn more with Ashley during her Childbirth Prep Weekend + Breastfeeding and Newborn Care at FPC.

The upcoming Sept 28-30th class is perfect for parents expecting in December and January.

The Second Stage of Labor: Pushing and Protecting the Pelvic Floor

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Contributed by Chantal Traub

Throughout the years of assisting women in birth, I realized that many moms are unprepared for the 2nd stage of labor. The second stage is when the mother assists her body by pushing the baby out. As a doula, I've heard many interesting stories about labor and delivery. I would find myself at the playground with my children or at a party and chat with a mother who would say “oh you are a doula, let me tell you about my birth!” Sometimes it is a beautiful birth experience, often, it is a story about a disappointing or a physically traumatic birth that led to ongoing pain with intercourse or urinary incontinence. A woman past childbearing age might tell me she had developed an organ prolapse or leaking.

During pushing, the muscle tissue in the pelvic floor will give as far as it needs to. Sometimes, this can result in a small tear, which eventually heals well, but could subsequently contract or atrophy due to the trauma and cause problems later in life. There are ways to prepare and protect the pelvic floor, for example: choosing the right providers, the positions you use to allow your baby to descend, the provider's patience at the time of crowning, your nutrition, and habits and lifestyle, and exercises that strengthen and tone the pelvic floor.

Over the years, I have talked with providers about better preparing mothers for the 2nd stage of labor. One of the answers that I'm given is that “she will figure it out while doing it and she only has to do it once, for her first vaginal birth, because pushing is so much easier and shorter the second time”. And I would think, yes that's true. The muscle strength and ability is there and there is a normal learning curve in the beginning of the 2nd stage, but...?

We, as pre-and postnatal providers, keep seeing so many postpartum issues, shouldn't moms prepare better? Wouldn't it be good to know beforehand how to strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and before entering menopause?

In my workshop, you will learn how the pelvis and fetus interact as well as simple exercises to bring awareness to your pelvic floor. You will review breathing and positions for pushing, and I will offer you tools and tips to prepare.

One of the many ways to help tone the pelvic floor during pregnancy, post-baby and beyond is the practice of yoga. Below are some of my personal favorites. In my yoga classes, I will tailor the poses to your levels and abilities.

 

Chantal Traub is a certified doula, childbirth educator and yoga teacher who has been
assisting expectant mothers for over 15 years. She maintains the passionate belief that there is a better way to help mothers prepare to push more effectively and protect the pelvic floor during pregnancy and birth. Chantal offers expertise and guidance to
pregnant women who want to prepare for birth and beyond. She is certified by both
Lamaze International and the Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New
York and is a board member of the Childbirth Education Association of Metro NY.
Chantal runs a private doula practice and offers private childbirth workshops. She's a
mom of two children.