How to Push a Baby During Delivery

By Sara Ipatenco
Pregnant woman holding husband's hand during delivery
Pregnant woman holding husband's hand during delivery

Pushing occurs in the second stage of labor. It's time to push your baby once your cervix is fully dilated, according to the Sutter Health website. Bear down and push as someone coaches you or as your body tells you to do so. Get into a comfortable pushing position to allow you to push most effectively. There are various scenarios when it's appropriate to push and when it's not appropriate, so it's important to always follow the directions of your doctor, midwife or other birth health-care professional.

Choose A Pushing Method

Coached or directed pushing is what most pregnant women think of when they hear the word pushing, and it's the most common method. With this type of pushing, you're told when to push whether you feel like you need to or not, as well as how to push, according to the BabyCenter website. The second type of pushing doesn't have a specific name and it's often referred to as spontaneous pushing. This approach allows you to push when your body gives you cues to do so, and is the method used my many midwives.

Get Into Position

Getting into a comfortable position, or as comfortable as possible, will help you push more effectively. There are several appropriate pushing positions, so you can discuss with your doctor or midwife which you would prefer. A position that allows you to keep your chin down and your back rounded is the best option, because it enables your uterus to push effectively, according to Sutter Health. Most women lie on their backs to deliver, but it can make pushing more comfortable, speedy or effective to sit, squat, lie on your side or get down on your hands and knees.

Push Your Baby Out

When you push depends on what method of pushing you've decided is right for you. With coached pushing, you're usually instructed to take a deep breath as you feel a contraction starting, hold it and push as hard as possible, the BabyCenter website notes. Most of the time, you'll aim to push three to five times during each contraction. With spontaneous pushing, which is being more widely recommended, according to a 2006 article published in the Journal of Perinatal Education, you push when your body tells you do so. This method can be a drawback, however, if a women has had an epidural, because it makes it harder to feel when the body has the natural urge to push.

Think About These Scenarios

There are certain times when it's not appropriate to push. For example, if the cervix isn't fully dilated, you'll be instructed to hold off on pushing. If your baby is crowning and your perineum needs to stretch more gradually, you'll likely be asked to stop pushing for a few minutes, according to the Sutter Health website. The World Health Organization cautions against asking a mom to bear down hard while also holding her breath for long periods of time, the BabyCenter website reports. If you feel strongly about one method of pushing over another, speak with your doctor or midwife as you approach your due date so she knows what your wishes are before you go into labor.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.