Pushing Upright and Spontaneously: A’s Birth Video
Lamaze International’s fifth Healthy Birth Practice Paper is all about pushing: pushing in an upright position, pushing according to your body’s urges, pushing in a way that both maximizes a woman’s comfort and safety and encourages the rotation and descent of her baby.
It’s all about pushing in ways that research shows are healthy for moms and babies!
Nevertheless, despite the evidence supporting the “spontaneous pushing” (or physiologic pushing) that Lamaze and other birth advocates and researchers recommend, it’s not often that we actually see women pushing spontaneously.
As I’ve reflected upon my VBAC, however, I’ve realized that I did follow the healthy pushing practices set out by Lamaze International. And this was not because I was a “better” pusher or a “better” birther than anyone else. And it wasn’t just because I knew that spontaneous pushing was healthy.
It was also because I had a support team who knew that spontaneous/physiologic pushing was healthy.
We knew that pushing in upright positions helps to facilitate a baby’s rotation and descent into the birth canal.
We knew that I needed to find the pushing position that worked best for me.
We knew that I needed time to rest in between pushes and in between contractions.
We knew that following my urge to push would decrease my likelihood of perineal and pelvic floor damage.
We knew that pushing in a calm and unrushed environment–and not pushing to a count of ten–would help to maximize my own and my baby’s oxygenation.
And they knew when to step back and allow me to do my work, and they knew when to step in and encourage me to change positions, to stay hydrated, or even to trust the process of birth itself.
This is what it looked–and sounded–like.
(It should be noted that I am publishing these videos with some hesitation–not because I am embarrassed about publicly displaying my “birthing behavior” but because I am offering what was perhaps the most vulnerable moment of my adult life up for public consumption. Exposing that vulnerability is a bit daunting. Nonetheless, I love these videos, and I love thinking about what they could help to share with other women and birth professionals.
And one more thing: these videos are not still images from my labor. They are actual videos of the birth. I grunt, I groan, I vocalize, and sometimes I even shriek. Birth is hard work. But I want everyone to know–and especially those women who haven’t yet given birth–that these guttural, strange sounds were not scary to me. Birthing was intense, and even painful, yes. But the sounds were what helped me to cope with that intensity, with that pain. So don’t be frightened when you hear me moaning like a beast! I was just being a warrior!)
Transitioning from “grunty contractions” to feeling the overwhelming urge to push.
(This one includes the famous “10 cm picture!”)
(Adjust your volume accordingly.)
Birthing my baby.
(Again, adjust your volume accordingly.)
All apologies for the poor lighting in these videos. I was willing to sacrifice a well-lit video for a dimly-lit place to birth, though!