We are so used to seeing the ‘pushing’ phase of labour on tv and we almost universally believe that this is what happens in all cases. Women lying on their backs with care providers around them screaming ‘push!’. Did you know that it doesn’t have to be this way?
If the hormones of birth are undisturbed and we are able to labour peacefully without intervention or interference, our body will push our baby out on its own! This is a really good reason for keeping that environment quiet and the labouring person having privacy and calm.
The fetal ejection reflex does what it says on the tin, the body ejects baby! We often refer to it as ‘backwards’ vomiting in our classes. Try as you might, you won’t be able to stop it, slow down, wait etc. Things people are often told when the care providers are not ready to receive baby or believe that the speed of things will cause tearing.
There’s always a slight risk of tearing during birth but in most cases these tears will heal perfectly well on their own and are not as bad as it sounds. So many other sensations are being felt down there that the focus is not on the tearing and most people have no idea until they’re told or look for themselves!
When our bodies push out our babies without our help, the babies head (usually) comes out a little, returns inside the body, comes out a little further and then returns again and so on. This means that the tissues of the perineum are stretched just a little at a time and this can prevent tearing as it is gradually stretched more and more each time. Rather than being forced out in one before the area is ready like can happen with coached pushing.
So if you’ve ever looked at someone screaming on the telly as they strain to push their baby out and thought ‘that looks like hard work, don’t think I could manage that!’. Well there’s a good chance you won’t have to, let your body do the work and you just get excited to meet your baby!
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photo by https://laceybarratt.com.au/