After nine months of pregnancy and no telling how many hours of labor, moms-to-be can't wait to meet their little one. But they have one less hurdle to complete before the baby's birth — the pushing phase. It's a daunting task to get a baby out of the body. Sometimes it can be done in 10 minutes, and sometimes it can take hours. But we are here to warn mothers that there is no reason to rush through the pushing phase. In fact, there are good reasons to stop.
Some women may think that pushing is the hard part, but for many the hardest part can come when they have to stop pushing. At some point the body will begin naturally clenching muscles to get the baby out, and when a woman is experiencing the "ring of fire" sensation at 10 centimeters dilation, it can provide some relief to put on some pressure by pushing.
But sometimes there is a need to rest — the mom needs to take a break, usually for a health reason, and she needs to fight her body to keep things from going forward. There are many reasons why a doctor or a midwife might ask for a woman to stop pushing, and sometimes it can even save the baby's life and stop the pain. It can be scary and difficult, but usually it is medical advice that a mom should be careful to obey, no matter how difficult it is.
Here are 12 reasons why women should stop pushing during labor.
Some women jump the gun a bit on the pushing phase, trying to get it over with. But that isn't likely to do much good, and in fact it could make things worse. The baby is really too big most of the time to push through a 10 centimeter hole, but even less would definitely be too small.
If a woman starts to push too early, her doctor or midwife is likely to caution her to save her energy. The cervix is considered "incomplete," and it's only after that 10th centimeter is achieved that the baby really descends into the proper position for coming. out.
The pushing phase can be a long and laborious process, as some women have to bear down for up to four hours before the baby arrives. A mom-to-be shouldn't waste her energy on going early because it won't shave off any time.
11 Late Arrivals
Sometimes a baby can come very quickly, and in fact, sometimes it can arrive before the doctor or the midwife. When a medical team is trying to set up, they may ask the mom to do all she can to stop pushing until they are ready.
The ability of the mom to wait for her doctor — or on the flip side, wait until she arrives at the birth center or hospital — depends on the stage and progress of labor. She may have reached 10 centimeters, but the baby is still higher up in the birth canal. She could feel an urge to push, but it isn't overwhelming.
Sometimes, though, there is no stopping the body from doing its thing, and the mom may just have to do her best to catch the baby herself. She may be scared out of her mind, and do all that she can to wait to push until her body makes her take action.
10 No. 2 Concerns
One of the top fears of pregnant women is pooping while they are pushing during childbirth. It's a valid concern because thousands of women end up with a little bit of fecal material coming out instead of the baby. And if a woman suspects she might be doing it wrong, she may stop mid-push.
The muscles in that area are very close together and some women find them hard to isolate. That can be especially true for women who have an epidural and aren't able to feel the sensations as well as if they did not have medication.
It can happen to anybody. But women shouldn't really worry about being embarrassed by bodily functions. Nurses and midwives have seen it all, and most of the time they can clean things up before the mom even realizes what has happened. While it is a reason that some women stop pushing, it is usually over quickly.
9 Massage Time
While the poop isn't really a problem, there are other reasons that women should stop that involve the perineal region. That space can endure some damage during delivery, but if a woman stops pushing for a bit and allows for a massage, things can go more smoothly.
A perineal massage involves using a digit or two, inserting it into the vagina and pushing down toward the rectum. Some doulas and nurses perform the service for a woman, and sometimes her partner can lend a hand. The stretching can help the skin to be more elastic when the pushing resumes, and that can help a woman avoid tearing and the possibility of an episiotomy.
Many practitioners take advantages of breaks to keep that massage and stretching going, making the skin more pliable for the job at hand. It's a good reason to take a break. And speaking of breaks...
8 Break Time
We have mentioned that the pushing phrase can go on for hours, but women don't have to work constantly during that time. In fact, they have a lot of breaks in between periods of pushing. Just like during labor, contractions wax and wane, and when one contraction is over, a woman should stop pushing until the next one begins.
For some women who go through unmedicated childbirth, they think that they will know when contractions begin and end. But after going through the pain and anguish of transition and are facing the ring of fire, they may never really feel relief. The nurses and midwife can help them figure out the proper time to rest, which will help them avoid tearing and other issues. And for women who have an epidural, they often don't known when a contraction begins or ends.
It's important to listen to the health care provider during the pushing phase so that a woman gets the break she needs to keep her energy up to get the baby out.
7 Breech Surprise
In a vaginal delivery, every mom expects her baby to come out head first. But sometimes, the baby can be breech. For the most part, doctors and midwives are able to diagnose a breech baby in the late stages of pregnancy. During those last two months or so, usually a baby is in the position that it will be at birth because there isn't enough room for him or her to flip without some extreme measures (and most women try those to get the baby head down in time).
But sometimes a baby can surprise the doctor and flip to the other side at the very end of pregnancy. It can also happen with twins, especially after the first is out and the second has room to move. All of a sudden, the doctor sees a foot or a bottom, and that can cause him to ask the mom to stop pushing.
It is possible to deliver a breech baby, but it can be risky. Some women may choose for an emergency C-section, if they can stop pushing in time.
6 Cord Emergency
Sometimes the baby isn't the only thing to come out of the vagina during delivery. The cord may actually come first or may be wrapped around the baby's neck. Those are very dangerous situations, and it could leave a woman trying her best to keep the baby in just moments after she was pushing to get it out.
A cord prolapse — where the cord comes out before the baby — can result in oxygen deprivation if the cord is compressed by the baby's head or body. Some babies end up with brain damage or even die because of a cord emergency, so it is a good reason to stop pushing and see if the doctor can do anything to make the delivery safer. That may mean the woman holding up while she is wheeled across the hall for an emergency C-section. The danger is real in these situations, so the mom should do all she can to follow the doctor's orders.
5 Shoulder Dystocia
After a baby's head has crowned and been delivered, sometimes a doctor or midwife will ask a woman to stop pushing so that they have time to guide the rest of the body out of the birth control in a more controlled manner. There are several reasons for that, but one is a big risk for shoulder dystocia, which can happen when the baby's shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal.
Shoulder dystocia is a real concern for big babies or for ones with mothers who have a smaller pelvis. The danger is that the during the delivery, nerves in the shoulder can be pinched. The most severe cases can mean that the baby doesn't have use of an arm. The birth injury is a big deal, so sometimes it's best to slow it down and give the doctor or midwife the opportunity to figure out the safest way to get the body out. If that means stopping pushing, then so be it.
4 Delayed Pushing
In recent years some women have worked to create a more natural birth method, and they try to take holistic approaches to pregnancy and childbirth. Some experiment with different ways to get through delivery in an unmedicated way, and one of the newer trends involves delayed pushing.
Some natural birth experts and doulas say that women should wait to start pushing until the body takes on the job. Even a mild urge to push may be too soon — the woman should wait until there is an uncontrollable urge to push. The act is called delayed pushing, and it may mean less work for the mom because the baby will be farther into the birth canal and in a better starting place for the work.
It's too early to decide whether the delayed pushing trend will catch on, but the idea seems right, as long as the body can handle the wait. Again, it's about following the directions of trained healthcare practitioners to do the best for the baby.
3 Shifting Position
Similar to the delayed pushing method, other natural birth experts say that women need to stop doing the pushing stage the traditional way. They discourage pushing while lying on your back with your legs in stirrups and holding your breath in a way that makes you turn purple, as depicted in the movies. The phrase "bear down," they say, isn't correct, and instead of counting the length of a push, they should breathe through it.
Giving Birth Naturally says that women should stop pushing when told and instead focus on the body and move into a more natural position, such as squatting, sidelying or getting on all fours. The doulas say that a woman should relax the mouth and throat and exhale down, feeling the breath flow through the body. Instead of listening to those who have gone before them, these natural birth advocates say a woman should trust her own instincts and push when she is ready.
2 Turning Baby
We have mentioned breech babies before, but sometimes a doctor will tell a woman to stop pushing mid-birth to turn a baby that is head down. In a normal delivery, the baby will actually star facing the woman's back, but some babies are "sunny-side up," which is a funny term for being in the occiput posterior position, which faces the abdomen.
Many times the baby will shift to the face-down position during the delivery, but sometimes they need a little assistance. Posterior births are more likely to result in vaginal tears or episiotomies, and the moms are more likely to need pitocin to strengthen contractions or to push longer, which can result in a C-section or other interventions such as forceps or vacuum deliveries, according to Baby Center.
Some doctors will try to manually rotate the baby once the mom is fully dilated, so he may ask the mom to stop pushing until he tries to reposition the baby. It doesn't always work, but it might be worth a pause to try.
One of the most scary reasons that a woman may stop pushing is if the baby is in distress. Throughout the birth, a doctor or midwife will monitor the baby to see how he or she is tolerating contractions and to get a head's up if anything is going on in the womb. At a hospital, there may be continuous monitoring through a probe on the mom's abdomen, while at a home birth it may be more intermittent.
Unfortunately, sometimes after a long labor or because of issues like meconium, the baby's heart rate may speed up or slow down, to the point of danger. The sound of the alarms can stop a mom's pushing in the middle of a contraction. Sometimes the doctor may ask her to stop and get into the operating room for an emergency C-section.
Most of the time, though, the best thing to do might be to keep on pushing. Depending on how safe things are, often a baby in distress needs to be delivered right away, and a lot of times a few more pushes are all that it takes to get the job done. Trust the doctor and follow directions to get the baby help as soon as possible.
Sources: What to Expect, Pint-sized Treasures, Giving Birth Naturally, Sutter Health, The Birth Teacher, Fit Pregnancy