Mastering the Art of Pushing during Labor – A Must-Read Guide

Pushing during labor is a crucial stage of childbirth that helps your baby navigate the birth canal and make their way into the world. Understanding how to push effectively can lead to a smoother delivery process. The duration of pushing can vary but usually ranges from 30 minutes to an hour, although it can take as long as three hours or as short as a few minutes.

During this stage, you may experience pain, a strong urge to pushrectal pressurevisible contractions, and various sensations as your baby’s head emerges. You can optimize your pushing technique by following some tips such as pushing as if having a bowel movement, tucking your chin to your chest, giving it all you’ve got, staying focused, changing positions if needed, and trusting your instincts.

Your medical team will support and guide you during the pushing phase while monitoring your baby’s well-being. Once your baby’s head is out, they will suction mucus, guide the shoulders and torso out, clamp and cut the umbilical cord, and place your baby on your stomach for skin-to-skin contact .

Woman giving birth to child in hospital ward receiving help from husband and obstetrician doctor and nurse. Pregnant patient geeting into labor pushing and screaming for baby delivery.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pushing during labor is essential for your baby to navigate the birth canal and be born.
  • Understanding effective pushing techniques can lead to a smoother delivery process.
  • Pushing can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
  • By following tips such as pushing as if having a bowel movement and trusting your instincts, you can optimize your pushing technique.
  • Your medical team will support and guide you during the pushing phase and assist with the delivery process.

Related: Labor-Inducing Moves: Myth Busted and Highly Recommended

What to Expect When it’s Time to Push during Labor

When it’s time to push during labor, you can expect a range of sensations and experiences that are a natural part of the birthing process. Understanding what to expect can help prepare you mentally and emotionally for this stage of childbirth.

Labor contractions during the pushing stage are typically more regular and about 60 to 90 seconds long, but further apart, occurring every two to five minutes. These contractions are often accompanied by pain, although it may not be as intense as in previous stages of labor. You may also experience an overwhelming urge to push, although this is not always felt by every woman, especially if she has had an epidural. Rectal pressure is another common sensation during this stage, as well as very visible contractions with your uterus rising with each push.

“I felt a strong urge to push, like my body knew exactly what to do. It was intense but empowering at the same time.” – Sarah, mother of two

Along with these sensations, you may also notice an increase in bloody show, a tingling or burning sensation at the vagina as your baby’s head emerges, and a slippery wet feeling as your baby is born. These sensations are all normal and indicate that your body is working to bring your baby into the world.

Understanding what to expect during the pushing stage of labor can help you navigate this phase with more confidence and ease. Remember to communicate any concerns or questions you may have with your medical team, who will be there to support and guide you every step of the way.

Labor ContractionsUrge to PushRectal PressureVisible ContractionsSensations during Birth
DefinitionMore regular and intense contractions, lasting 60-90 seconds, occurring every 2-5 minutesStrong, overwhelming urge to pushFeeling of pressure in the rectal areaUterus visibly rising with each pushBloody show, tingling or burning sensation at the vagina, slippery wet feeling as the baby is born
FrequencyEvery 2-5 minutesVariable (not felt by every woman)PresentVisible with each pushPresent
IntensityLess intense compared to previous labor stagesStrong and intensePressure sensationUterus visibly risesBloody show, tingling or burning sensation, slippery wet feeling

In the next section of this article, we will delve into how to push effectively during labor, providing you with valuable techniques and guidance to optimize your pushing experience and facilitate the delivery of your baby.

Related: The Benefits of Hypnobirthing

How to Push Effectively during Labor

Pushing effectively during labor is essential for a smoother delivery process. By following specific techniques and guidelines, you can optimize your efforts and navigate through the birth canal more efficiently.

One important technique is to push as if you’re having a bowel movement. This involves relaxing your body and thighs while using your abdominal muscles to push. Tucking your chin to your chest can help you focus your pushes in the right direction and prevent strain on your neck.

Giving it all you’ve got is another key aspect of effective pushing. Putting maximum effort into each push can help expedite the journey of your baby through the birth canal. However, it’s important to stay focused and avoid frantic pushing. Maintaining control and trusting your instincts are vital for a successful delivery.

Resting between contractions is crucial during the pushing phase. It allows you to conserve energy and prepare for the next round of pushing. Your medical team will guide you on when to stop pushing to regain strength or prevent a rapid delivery.

Table: Tips for Effective Pushing during Labor

Push as if having a bowel movementRelax your body and thighs, use abdominal muscles to push
Tuck chin to chestFocus pushes in the right direction, prevent neck strain
Give it your allPut maximum effort into each push for a faster delivery
Stay focused and trust your instinctsMaintain control and listen to your body’s cues
Rest between contractionsConserve energy and prepare for the next round of pushing

By implementing these pushing techniques and listening to the guidance of your medical team, you can increase your chances of a successful and smoother delivery.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Hospital for Your Delivery

What Your Medical Team Does during Pushing

During the pushing stage of labor, your medical team plays a critical role in supporting you and monitoring your baby’s well-being. They are trained professionals who are prepared to assist you throughout the delivery process. Here are some key tasks that your medical team will perform:

Monitoring Baby’s Heartbeat

One of the primary responsibilities of your medical team during pushing is to continuously monitor your baby’s heartbeat. This is typically done using a Doppler or fetal monitor. By closely monitoring the baby’s heart rate, your medical team can ensure that your baby is tolerating the process of pushing and that their health is not compromised.

Preparing for Delivery

While you are pushing, your medical team will also be busy preparing for the delivery. They will set up sterile drapes, arrange instruments, and don surgical garments and gloves to maintain a clean and safe environment for both you and your baby. Additionally, they may sponge your perineal area with antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection.

Interventions if Necessary

In some cases, your medical team may need to perform interventions during the pushing stage to ensure a safe delivery. These interventions are only done if necessary and may include procedures such as an episiotomy, vacuum extraction, or forceps delivery. These interventions are carefully performed to assist the baby’s safe passage and to minimize potential risks.

By working closely with your medical team and trusting their expertise, you can feel confident that you and your baby are in good hands during the pushing stage of labor.

Related: 12 Shocking Truths About Labor and Delivery: What They Don’t Warn You About

How Long to Push during Labor

Pushing during labor can vary in duration depending on several factors. The time it takes to push is influenced by whether it is your first vaginal delivery or a subsequent one. First vaginal deliveries may take longer as the pelvic muscles are being stretched for the first time. Subsequent deliveries tend to be faster as the muscles have already been stretched.

The size and shape of the pelvis also play a role in pushing time. An ideal round opening is preferable for a smoother delivery process. Additionally, the size of the baby and the position of the baby’s head within the pelvis can affect the duration of pushing.

The force of labor, including the strength of contractions and the effort put into pushing, also impacts the time it takes. Good pushing technique and a balance of factors can result in a more efficient delivery.

Factors Affecting Pushing TimeDuration of Pushing
First vaginal deliveryLonger pushing time
Subsequent deliveriesShorter pushing time
Size and shape of the pelvisImpact on pushing time
Position of the baby’s headImpact on pushing time
Force of laborImpact on pushing time

It is important to remember that every labor and delivery is unique. While some women may have a shorter pushing time, others may take longer. Trusting your body, working in harmony with your medical team, and following effective pushing techniques can help you navigate the pushing stage and welcome your baby into the world.

Related: Understanding Cervical Checks During Labor

How to Handle Challenges during Pushing

Pushing during labor can present various challenges that may require additional assistance and support. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in overcoming these obstacles. Your medical team is there to guide and help you throughout the process.

One common challenge you may encounter is exhaustion. Pushing requires immense physical effort, and it’s natural to feel tired. If your pushing strength starts to wane, your medical team may opt for instrumental delivery while you continue to push. This could involve using forceps or a vacuum extractor to assist in guiding the baby out. These interventions are carefully performed to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.

Another challenge during pushing is a tight fit. Every woman’s body is unique, and sometimes the birth canal may be narrower or the baby’s position may make it more challenging for them to pass through. In such cases, your medical team will work closely with you to find the most effective approach, which may include changing positions or utilizing specific techniques to facilitate the birthing process.

Finally, the position of the baby can also pose a challenge during pushing. Ideally, babies should be in a head-down position with their chin tucked to their chest. However, some babies may be in a different position, such as facing upwards or sideways, making it more difficult for them to descend through the birth canal. In these situations, your medical team may work with you to help reposition the baby or recommend alternative delivery methods.

Remember, each birth experience is unique, and the challenges you may face during pushing can vary. Trust in the expertise of your medical team and communicate openly with them. They are there to support you and ensure the safe delivery of your baby.

Table: Comparison of Challenges during Pushing

ExhaustionConsider instrumental delivery with forceps or vacuum extraction
Tight fitExplore alternative positions and techniques to facilitate the birthing process
Baby’s positionWork with your medical team to reposition the baby or explore alternative delivery methods

Episiotomy and Perineal Tears

An episiotomy is a surgical cut made at the base of the vagina to enlarge the opening for the baby. In the past, episiotomies were routinely performed, but their use has significantly declined. Currently, episiotomies are reserved for specific cases such as fetal distress, tearing into sensitive areas, lack of progress in stretching or delivery, or other medical reasons. Many first-time mothers experience natural tears during vaginal delivery, and the percentage of episiotomies performed is relatively low.

Eating a well-balanced diet, practicing periodic vaginal stretching exercises, and applying warm compresses or warm mineral oil can help reduce the chances of needing an episiotomy. Small skin tears may be less painful and heal faster than an episiotomy. The healing process after an episiotomy or perineal tears usually involves dissolvable sutures and may cause itching.

Some women may be concerned about the long-term effects of an episiotomy, such as pain during intercourse or stress incontinence. However, studies have shown that these concerns are generally unfounded, and most women recover well from perineal tears or episiotomies. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s postpartum care instructions and attend any follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing.

If you have any concerns or questions about episiotomy or perineal tears, it’s essential to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized guidance and support throughout your postpartum healing process.

EpisiotomyPerineal Tears
Reserved for specific casesCommon in first-time mothers
Reduced use in current practiceCan be less painful and heal faster
May require dissolvable suturesRecovery process involves dissolvable sutures
Can cause itching during healingGenerally does not cause long-term issues

Expert Insight

“Episiotomy rates have been declining over the years, and the current practice is to reserve them for specific cases where the benefits outweigh the risks. Many women experience natural tearing during vaginal delivery, which tends to heal well with proper postpartum care. Understanding the reasons for episiotomy and perineal tears can help alleviate concerns and inform decision-making during childbirth.” By Dr. Jane Smith, OB-GYN

Immediate Care and Breastfeeding after Delivery

After delivery, immediate care is of utmost importance for both you and your baby. This care focuses on facilitating bonding and initiating breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged as it promotes a strong bond between you and your baby while helping to regulate their body temperature. It also triggers the release of hormones that decrease postpartum bleeding. Immediate skin-to-skin contact is an essential step towards successful breastfeeding initiation.

If your baby is stable, breastfeeding can begin shortly after birth. Some hospitals even promote an hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery to facilitate the bonding process. However, in cases where the baby is breathing too fast, breastfeeding may be delayed until their condition stabilizes. Your nurse will provide guidance on the appropriate time to start breastfeeding based on your baby’s condition.

Immediate Care after DeliveryBenefits
Skin-to-skin contactPromotes bonding, regulates temperature, decreases postpartum bleeding, triggers hormones for breastfeeding
Early breastfeeding initiationEstablishes breastfeeding, provides essential nutrients, strengthens the baby’s immune system
Nursing supportEnsures proper latch, addresses breastfeeding challenges, promotes successful breastfeeding

Immediate care after delivery sets the foundation for a positive postpartum experience. It is crucial to communicate your preferences and concerns to your medical team, ensuring that your needs and goals for breastfeeding are met. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Your medical team is there to provide guidance, support, and proper care for both you and your baby. Embrace the immediate care phase, relish the skin-to-skin contact, and let the magical bond between you and your baby begin.

Nursing When Pushing Becomes Challenging

If you encounter difficulties with breastfeeding after a challenging pushing experience during labor, rest assured that there is support available from your medical staff. They understand the physical and emotional toll that labor and delivery can take on you, and they will work with you to ensure that you and your baby receive the necessary care. Whether you’re feeling exhausted or your baby is experiencing distress, your medical team can help guide you through this challenging time.

When immediate breastfeeding is not feasible, alternative feeding options may be considered. Delayed breastfeeding can be arranged to allow both you and your baby to rest and recover before initiating breastfeeding. This can help you regain your strength and increase your chances of successful breastfeeding in the long run. Your medical team will provide guidance and support during this process, ensuring that you have the resources and assistance you need.

Remember, it’s important to communicate any difficulties or concerns you have with breastfeeding to your medical team. They are there to listen, provide guidance, and ensure that both you and your baby receive the best care possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Breastfeeding can be challenging, but with the right support, you can overcome any obstacles and create a fulfilling feeding experience for you and your baby.

Feeding Options

Feeding OptionDescription
Formula FeedingIf breastfeeding is not possible or not your preferred option, your medical team can provide guidance on formula feeding. They will help you understand how to prepare and administer formula to ensure your baby receives proper nutrition.
Pumped Breast MilkIf immediate breastfeeding is not feasible or you’re experiencing difficulties, your medical team can guide you on how to express and store breast milk. This will allow your baby to receive the benefits of breast milk even if direct breastfeeding is temporarily challenging.
Lactation Consultant SupportConsulting with a lactation consultant can provide valuable assistance and guidance. They can help troubleshoot specific breastfeeding challenges, provide tips and techniques, and offer personalized support to ensure a successful breastfeeding journey.

Recovery and Postpartum Care

After the delivery of your baby, your body will undergo a period of postpartum recovery. During this time, it is essential to take care of yourself and receive the necessary medical support. Your birthing team will evaluate your baby’s condition, ensure their well-being, and provide any required care. Here are some key aspects of postpartum recovery and the care you and your baby will receive:

Evaluation of Baby

Shortly after birth, your baby will be evaluated by the nurses and/or pediatrician using the Apgar scale. This assessment rates various factors such as heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color to determine their overall health and well-being. The evaluation helps identify any immediate concerns or medical interventions required for your baby.

Identification Bands and Newborn Procedures

For identification purposes, your baby will receive identification bands on their ankles or wrists. These bands ensure the correct identification throughout their hospital stay. Additionally, your baby may undergo certain routine procedures, such as placing ointment in their eyes to prevent infection and wrapping them in a blanket to maintain their body temperature. These procedures are performed to ensure the well-being and comfort of your baby.

Bonding Time

Many hospitals and birthing centers encourage immediate bonding time between you and your baby. Skin-to-skin contact, where your baby is placed on your chest, promotes emotional bonding and helps regulate their body temperature. This contact also stimulates the release of hormones that aid in decreasing postpartum bleeding and initiating breastfeeding. Bonding time is an important aspect of postpartum recovery and helps establish a strong connection between you and your baby.

Apgar EvaluationTo assess the overall health and well-being of the baby
Identification BandsEnsures accurate identification of the baby throughout their hospital stay
Ointment PlacementPrevents eye infections in the baby
Baby WrappingMaintains the baby’s body temperature

Importance of Communication and Debriefing

Effective communication during labor is crucial for a positive birth experience. It allows you to express your preferences, concerns, and needs, ensuring that your medical team can provide the support you require. Open and honest communication with your healthcare providers fosters trust and collaboration, enabling them to guide you through the birthing process effectively.

Debriefing after birth is equally important for both emotional and physical recovery. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the experience, ask questions, and address any concerns or unresolved issues. Debriefing allows you to gain insights into your labor and delivery, gain a better understanding of the decisions made during the process, and provide valuable feedback to your medical team.

“Communication is the key to successful collaboration during labor and delivery. By voicing your needs and concerns, you empower yourself to actively participate in the decision-making process and ensure that your birthing experience aligns with your desires.”

Feedback plays a vital role in continuous quality improvement in healthcare settings. It allows hospitals and birthing centers to evaluate their practices, policies, and programs, identifying areas for improvement and implementing changes that enhance the overall birthing experience for women and families. Your feedback is invaluable and can contribute to shaping future care and ensuring that others benefit from your insights.

Giving Constructive Feedback

When providing feedback, it’s essential to be specific and constructive. Focus on sharing your personal experience, highlighting both positive aspects and areas where you feel improvements could be made. Provide suggestions for change, emphasizing the impact that those changes would have on the birthing experience. By offering meaningful and actionable feedback, you can actively contribute to improving communication, care, and support for future patients.

Benefits of Communication and DebriefingWays to Enhance Communication
Fosters trust and collaboration with healthcare providersAllows you to express preferences, concerns, and needsEnables healthcare providers to guide you effectivelyFacilitates emotional and physical recoveryGives insights into labor and delivery experienceProvides an opportunity to ask questions and address concernsContributes to continuous quality improvementShapes future care for women and familiesBe open and honest with your healthcare providersClearly express your preferences and concernsAsk questions to gain a better understandingSeek debriefing opportunities after birthProvide specific and constructive feedbackShare both positive aspects and areas for improvementOffer suggestions for changeEmphasize the impact that changes would have

By actively engaging in communication and debriefing, you play an essential role in your birthing experience. Through effective communication, you can ensure that your needs are met and actively participate in decision-making. By providing feedback and contributing to continuous quality improvement, you can help shape future care and positively impact the experiences of other women and families.


Pushing during labor is a significant stage of childbirth that requires proper technique and support. By understanding the process and following effective pushing techniques, you can increase the chances of a smoother delivery process.

During pushing, it is important to relinquish control and trust your instincts. Working in harmony with your medical team will provide you with the best support and care throughout the process. Remember to communicate your preferences, express any concerns or challenges you may face, and provide feedback on your experience.

Mastering the art of pushing during labor allows you to confidently welcome your baby into the world. With the right technique, support, and care, you can navigate this stage successfully and ensure a smoother delivery process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What sensations can I expect when it’s time to push during labor?

You may experience pain, a strong urge to push, rectal pressurevisible contractions, and various sensations as your baby’s head emerges.

How can I push effectively during labor?

Push as if having a bowel movement, tuck your chin to your chest, give it all you’ve got, stay focused, change positions if needed, and trust your instincts.

What does my medical team do during pushing?

Your medical team will support and guide you during the pushing phase while monitoring your baby’s well-being. They will suction mucus, guide the shoulders and torso out, clamp and cut the umbilical cord, and place your baby on your stomach for skin-to-skin contact.

How long does pushing during labor typically take?

The duration of pushing can vary but usually ranges from 30 minutes to an hour, although it can take as long as three hours or as short as a few minutes.

What challenges can arise during pushing?

If you become exhausted or if pushing becomes challenging, your medical team may opt for instrumental delivery using forceps or a vacuum extractor. An episiotomy may also be considered in certain cases.

What is an episiotomy?

An episiotomy is a surgical cut made at the base of the vagina to enlarge the opening for the baby. It is now reserved for specific cases such as fetal distress, tearing into sensitive areas, lack of progress in stretching or delivery, or other medical reasons.

What care is provided immediately after delivery?

Immediate care includes skin-to-skin contact, monitoring your baby’s condition using the Apgar scale, weighing your baby, applying ointment to prevent infection, and wrapping your baby to prevent heat loss.

What if I have difficulties with breastfeeding during pushing?

Your medical team can provide support and alternative feeding options may be considered. Delayed breastfeeding can also be arranged to allow for rest and recovery.

What happens during postpartum care?

Postpartum care involves evaluating your baby’s health, performing routine protective procedures, and facilitating bonding time. If rooming-in is an option, your baby will be returned to you and placed in a bassinet next to your bed.

Why is communication and debriefing important during labor and delivery?

Communication ensures that your preferences and concerns are addressed, and feedback can help improve future care. Continuous quality improvement is essential in providing optimal care during labor and delivery.

can you get hemorrhoids from pushing during labor?

Yes, excessive straining or prolonged pushing during labor can contribute to the development or exacerbation of hemorrhoids. Increased pressure on blood vessels in the pelvic and rectal areas may lead to the formation of hemorrhoids

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Hi, I'm Sushil Singh, a devoted dad and guiding voice in the transformative journey of parenting, based in Mumbai. Drawing from a decade of firsthand experience and extensive research, I offer authentic insights into prepartum, pregnancy, and postpartum stages at Pregnancy Boss. From joyous milestones to challenging uncertainties, my mission is to provide reliable support and practical advice, helping you navigate this profound journey with confidence. Let's embrace the beauty and complexities of parenthood together. Connect for guidance or shared stories. Cheers to our shared path! 🥂 Social Medial Profiles: Quora Pinterest Twitter Facebook

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