When to Push??

“How will I know when to push?”

Okay, so I know that many of my clients read this blog – heck, some of you chose to hire me BECAUSE of this blog! And I am sorry, but many of you will recognize yourself in this particular blog post and think I’m speaking directly and specifically about you. Let me assure you….this post was inspired by a great many “you’s” and if you recognize yourself in this, you are not alone!

Other than a first time mom who asks “How will I know when I am in labor?”….probably the most common question I get asked is, “how will I know when it’s time to push?” Those that ask this question are often first time mothers, or mothers who have only given birth with epidurals in the past. In other words…many many many mothers!

Here is my answer: You don’t have to!

Think on that for a moment and let it absorb. In a world that has taught us that birth is something to be feared, it has also taught us that it is something to control. We must know when you are fully dilated so we can tell you when it’s time to push.

OH REALLY?? Let me break this down into all of the ways in which it is wrong. First and foremost: just because you are fully dilated does not mean it’s time to push. Did you know that the US is one of the ONLY countries who have decided that the second stage of labor (called the “pushing stage”) begins at complete dilation?

The moment you are 10cm dilated it begins…I always imagine an OB in scrubs with a gun filled with blanks pointed towards the sky while the poor pregnant mother dressed in a hospital Johnny is in starting position – the OB fires the gun! GO!! The race has begun!! Ready or not, you better run your little heart out because if you don’t cross the finish line in a predetermined amount of time the OB will disqualify you and take you out of the race. Your punishment? A c-section.

Your body is not always ready to push at 10cm! Sometimes there’s a lull that happens…it has become known as the “rest and be thankful” phase. Mother’s body and baby have done a lot of work to become fully dilated and there is a lull in the labor that gathers energies and strength before the big race begins. There is absolutely NO reason to push during that stage and doing so can waste your energy as well as put unnecessary stress on the baby.

Okay….so how will you know when rest and be thankful is done and you should push?

Again, you don’t have to know! You would think it’s silly for a mother to ask, “So how will I know when the next contraction should be so I know when to contract?” You don’t have to, your body does it. Your body will know when to contract. And your body will know when to push.

Do you really think that if nobody told you when to push…if we dropped the ball on this one and just didn’t tell you that you should push…do you really think you’d be pregnant forever?? That this baby can’t exit your body without instruction?

When you were not pregnant did you ever ask the following questions…?
How will I know when I need to eat? How will I know when I need to go to the bathroom? How will I know when I need to throw up? How will I know…..

Do those seem like silly questions? Good…then you can understand why I smiled at you when you were in labor and asked me, “How will I know when I need to push?”

You don’t need to know…your body will know and your body will tell you louder and with more clarity than I could! This is different if we interrupt the signals with an epidural and it makes a lot of sense that a woman need to be told in that instance. She will also have a urinary catheter because she doesn’t know when to pee. Fortunately, I am not dealing with THOSE births…I see unmedicated mothers who (I hope) are fully in touch with the signals her body and her baby liberally throw her way.

So I sit and witness…as she flows through labor…waiting for it…waiting…watching…listening…watching and waiting…until…

Mother HEAVES, grunting as her body bears down with a force unimaginable to her before that moment, and she looks up at me with that look of, “Whoah!” And I smile with joy as a mother gets the opportunity to see how perfect her body can be and prepares to welcome her baby earthside.