how to push during labor

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.

Are you prepared to push? (An interview with Chantal Traub)

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 9.58.11 PM.png

 

 

 

We interviewed Chantal Traub, our educator for the upcoming "Prepare to Push" workshop to find out what inspires her and find out, what are the most important things she wishes all women knew for their births?


 

FPC: What inspired you to get into this work and how long have you been doing it?

Chantal: I was teaching prenatal yoga in the late 90's when some of my students invited me to attend their births. To deepen my knowledge and to better serve these women, I studied and became certified as both a childbirth educator and a doula.

While attending hundreds of births, I noticed that women were often under-prepared to push. I realized that was due in part to a lack of understanding of and limited preparation for optimal pushing. I became passionate about helping my clients Prepare + to Push effectively.

I've been assisting births full time since 2003. The work in itself is rewarding. I meet people from all over the world and their strengths and vulnerabilities that come out during the labor process move and inspire me.

 

FPC: What is the one piece of information about pushing that you wish more women knew?

 

Chantal: To release and let go of the pelvic floor muscles and let the baby OUT.

 

FPC: In your opinion, what should a women be doing during pregnancy to “prepare to push”?

 

Chantal: The pelvic floor is designed to stretch significantly during the pushing stage, but factors such as your activity, lifestyle, posture, and mindset can substantially affect this potential. Our nutrition affects our energy and our muscle strength and stretch. Making positive changes towards eating well during pregnancy for birth, postpartum and beyond helps both mom and baby. It is important to build body awareness, strength and stamina and stretch and lengthen the muscles that attach to the pelvic floor.

 

FPC: What kind of support system should a woman have in place to help with the pushing stage?

 

Chantal: The Provider – the OB or midwife that you choose plays a big part in protecting your pelvic floor.

The Partner or support Person can encourage, reassure, cheer and re-energize the mother. They can also help her calm and focus.

 

FPC: Is there anything you’d like to add?

 

Chantal:

  • It is valuable to invest in the preparation for childbirth and postpartum.

  • Self awareness can transform the nature of the experience.

  • The only muscles to tighten during pushing are diaphragm and abdominal muscles – NOT legs or buttocks.

It is so important to keep the big picture in mind. No matter which way your baby comes, it is about your personal experience and the birth of your baby and when you hear your baby cry or see or touch your baby for the very first time, it is a huge moment and a very moving experience and it puts you on the other side of birth and at a new beginning in your life. Enjoy your baby!