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Please could you share your experiences of the pushing stage?

(103 Posts)
Anglepoise Thu 09-Oct-08 13:28:17

Hello ladies

I'd be very grateful if you could share your experiences of the pushing stage of childbirth. DD is 12 days old and I found this stage rather traumatic, but I'm not sure whether I was unlucky or just horribly naive - since most things seem to concentrate on dealing with the contractions, I had kind of assumed that the pushing section would be brief and not too uncomfortable! Instead I ended up pushing for an hour and a quarter, on my back on a hospital bed (quite a long way from the home water birth I wanted ) and while I didn't have my legs in stirrups, the MW advised me to raise them - I eventually ended up bracing one against her and one against DH but my arms ached for three days from holding them. At one point I asked whether I should be in a different position (I'd been on my knees over the head of the bed previously) and the MW told me that this was best, although she also said I was pushing round a corner and uphill (which is why I thought it wasn't recommended any more). She also told me (I think) that I couldn't have gas and air during the pushing stage, so I was without pain relief for the whole thing. Does this sound right or was I badly advised? DD was 7 lb 12 oz, so not huge, but had gone back to back if that makes a difference.


Seeline Thu 09-Oct-08 13:35:28

I was over 5 hours with DS - he ended up ventouse. DD was about the same as you. They normally stop the gas and air for that bit becasuse you need to be able to feel the contractions so that you push at the right time. I too was on my back for both labours, mainly because I had to be monitored throughout, but I don't think it made things any easier. Also DS was 'the wrong way round' according to the MW - he wasn't breach, but I never did discover what she meant!! congrats on your little one btw smile

3Ddonut Thu 09-Oct-08 13:43:05

My experience with my first was similar, I remeber thinking I was getting no-where and getting up on my knees and leaning into the back of the bed, the mw gave me the oddest look and said to dh 'what is she doing?' so I laid back down, it wasn't nice. My next two were much better, in fact number two was born on the third push!!! Is this your first baby? Try not to be too disheartened, it may not be the birth you'd hoped for, but you do have a beautiful baby!!!!


Anglepoise Thu 09-Oct-08 13:47:41

Thanks grin I am trying not to be too whingey as it was in many ways a positive experience and yes, I do have a gorgeous baby at the end of it (though after more or less no sleep last night, I'm feeling slightly less maternal this morning). I think the whole thing was just a little more intense than I was expecting and I'm trying to make some sense of it

Niecie Thu 09-Oct-08 13:49:27

Congratulations on your new

I had a 4 hour pushing stage with DS1 - I had an epidural with him so couldn't feel much until they let the epidural run out and gave me something to speed up the contractions and then I had no gaps between contractions at all and was in a lot of pain, to the point I gave up pushing until the topped up the epidural. He was delivered by forceps after a failed ventuouse. I was on my back the whole time too and ended up with my legs in the stirrups for the final bit.

DS2 had a 20 minute second stage but I didn't actively push him out at all - my body did it for me. I was waiting for the ambulance crew to arrive (unexpected homebirth). They made it with minutes to spare. The paramedic wanted me to get up on the bed and lie on my back - I was kneeling on the floor leaning against the bed at the time but that was for her convenience not mine. Needless to say I didn't comply with her wish as DS was only 1 contraction away from being born by then.

No gas and air for me either time but they told us at the antenatal classes that you wouldn't need it as it wouldn't have the same affect and would stop you concentrating on pushing properly. I did think the contractions felt different in the second stage with DS2 though. Not sure how but maybe that is why they think you don't need gas and air.

I think the midwifes want you on your back for their convenience rather than your comfort. Next time (!) just claim you can't move on to your back and they will have to deal with it. 1.25 hours pushing for a first birth isn't outside of the 'normal' range I was told about at antenatal classes although if you were expecting 20 minutes I can see why you are disappointed.

thisisyesterday Thu 09-Oct-08 13:50:06

your MW was WRONG, especially if DD was back to back.

I spent over 2 hours on my back pushing ds1, before they got him out with ventouse.

ds2 was born at home, I was kneeling up over the sofa and my midwife said it was a really good position.
I still had to push for about an hour and 20 mins though, because he was back to back so very difficult to get out.

I did try lying on my back and felt it all immediately slow down and become harder.
gravity really does help!

Anglepoise Thu 09-Oct-08 13:53:27

Thanks for the replies - sounds as though I got off lightly with the hour and a quarter! - I was just surprised because everything seems to talk about the contractions and nothing about pushing.

I think the MW did want me on my back for her convenience - she was finding it a total pain in the arse checking the baby's heartbeat with me kneeling up (and I was finding it very annoying that she kept doing it!). Oh yes, and this was DC1. Hopefully with DC2 I'll be better informed, more assertive, and get my home birth.

fabsmum Thu 09-Oct-08 16:42:08

Just wanted to c+p this from the Royal College of Midwives 'Normal Birth Campaign' website. It's aimed at midwives and is about trying to increase rates of normal births:

Birth positions
Our upright posture makes us unique amongst mammals. However, this evolutionary development has made giving birth much more difficult for us. And these difficulties can be made much worse when we don't even take advantage of the help that gravity and being able to move around can provide.

From a physiological point of view, lying on one's back to give birth has many disadvantages and few advantages. This supine, 'confined' position, which has been common for the last two hundred years or so, came about for social and historical reasons which are no longer relevant. We continue to use it only from habit and familiarity.

Throughout the ages, and across human cultures, women have preferred to give birth with their bodies vertical. Historical manuscripts often show women giving birth in a standing or squatting position with their legs spread. There is now substantial evidence to suggest that these positions increase the outlet of the pelvis.

Over the last couple of decades, 'alternative' birthing positions have become more popular once more. However, there still seems to be considerable resistance to using them amongst midwives - perhaps because we believe they might expose us to the criticism and censure of our colleagues. These positions can be very beneficial, and should be part of every midwife's repertoire.

How do they work?
The key benefit of upright birthing positions is that they use the force of gravity to assist the descent of the fetus and the opening up of the cervix. They also allow a woman to move around during labour, flexing with the contractions and shifting from side to side to ease the pain. Some positions, such as 'all fours' enable a supporter to massage her lower back or put warm towels on it, which can help to relieve the strain.

If you try out the common positions, you will see how one flows into another - they are not really distinct positions at all. If a woman is familiar with them, she can move from one to another in labour according to her feelings at the time, finding the one that most suits her needs.

Moving around in this way is good for her. In the first stage, she may prefer more upright positions that afford greater mobility, but as she progresses through the second stage she will want to adopt those positions that feel most suitable for bearing down and giving birth.

Tips and tricks
Think about how you can help her to adopt other positions in labour – observe what works and what doesn't, and review when and why these positions were most successful. Your knowledge of antatomy can also help you to understand how different positions aid the physiological processes (for example, the curve of Carus).
Recommend that the she familiarise herself with different positions – this is something she can do before labour with her partner or other supporters, and the more familiar she is with them beforehand the easier she will find it to adopt them during labour. Some positions, like squatting, may not come easily to women brought up in the Western world.
Create a secure, private environment - this facilitates a woman's self expression and gives her the freedom to follow her own instincts. The feeling that she is in a private space will help her to feel comfortable trying out 'unconventional' positions."


Want to add - this could not be further from the reality of birth at our local hospital. 85% of women there give birth in minor variations of the same position: on their backs. I think it's really, really cr*p. If I was giving birth for the first time again today I'd be tempted to print this off and make the midwife read it aloud to me on admittance to hospital, just to make sure she'd taken the message on board. grin

RhinestoneCowghoul Thu 09-Oct-08 16:56:08

Anglepoise - I had DS at home (first baby) and pushed for a similar amount of time to you. I started kneeling over the sofa, did a bit of standing, but ended up in a supported squat using DH as an impromptu birthing stool.

I didn't get the overwhelming urge to push that people describe and was extremely knackered after labouring all night. However, I did get away with just a minor graze (no stitches) so slow and steady does have something going for it...

I suppose what I'm saying is that even though I was in a good position, it still took me a while. I think first babies test the system as it were. I have fingers crossed that DC2, due at Christmas, will be a bit more speedy.

theirmum Thu 09-Oct-08 16:58:36

I must have a bucket on my notes the pushing stage lasted for 2 minutes! no stitches no grazing think I am lucky my mum was the same over very quick

Kakiwee Thu 09-Oct-08 17:02:51

My first I was stuck pushing for over two hours with a doctor hovering at the door because they thought he was stuck. I was numb from the waist down, except for pain in my right hip. It was pretty horrible and it took me a long time to come to terms with my birth experience. I thought that was me and I would never try it again, it was so horrible.

My second the actual contractions only lasted an hour, so from nothing to pushing happened so quickly I was a bit surprised by it all. I didn't actually feel any urges to push until I started trying to push, then it took over my whole body. The sensation was incredible, it's a feeling now that still fills me with awe, and four pushes and she was out.

I think having my second baby has made me feel much better about the whole fiasco that was the first. Having less pain relief definitely helped, which might seem a bit of a contradiction, but my head was in the right place and I could feel all my bits and pieces, so I found it easier. You are also more confident to do what you feel comfortable doing.

There is counselling out there if you found your first experience difficult.

MrsMattie Thu 09-Oct-08 17:56:16

Great info, fabmum! I'm going to take that to my consultant appointment next week when we discuss my VBAC.

wtfhashappened Thu 09-Oct-08 18:06:05

well done you for talking about it and thanks to the others for sharing - I found the pushing stage very hard, but didn't talk to anyone about it, and so got emotionally tangled for months afterwards - you really need to process this and here is a great forum to do so. I never had the urge to push with any of my 3, and had to be forced into doing it with all of them, and was yelling at the midwives in each case that I couldn't. With the first I ended up in the position you described - and was not allowed pain relief. With the second and third I gave birth kneeling over the headboard of the bed, and although I hated it, it was a lot quicker and I didn't tear. HTH for next time.

chocbiscuits Thu 09-Oct-08 22:17:33

yeh me too on back with no gas and air.
Was a bit surprised after hearing for ages about how good it is to use gravity and how bad its supposed to be to go on your back, then they said you should go on your back - weird...

littlelamb Thu 09-Oct-08 22:24:14

Just to reassure you about next time- my birth with dd sounds very much like yours, on my back on the bed, pushing for 2 hours. She too was back to back, and did not turn in labour. Ds is 17 weeks old and the second stage lasted 8 minutes and was such an amazing birth Had a brilliant midwife who encouraged me to stand throughout labour, and push in a squat, supported by my partner. He was back to back throughout labour, but turned before birth. I think the attitude of the midwife sounds appauling, but sadly is all too common

Lionstar Thu 09-Oct-08 22:28:05

4 hours pushing, last 2 on my back. Was threatened with ventouse so allowed episiotomy & DD arrived in 2 more pushes, hand up to her cheek & I got a 3rd degree tear for the priviledge. Think it could have been managed better in hindsight!

Elasticwoman Thu 09-Oct-08 22:41:01

Anglepoise - I too pushed for an hour and a quarter with first baby. But I was squatting upright on the bed. This was 14 years ago so I can't believe the stupid mw had you on your back! As she said, uphill and round a corner. Why?

I was quite sore with perineal damage after first baby, but I put that down to mw telling me when to push and encouraging me to push harder than my body was telling me to.

With next 2 babies I was in water, and once the head crowned, the baby was out within a few minutes, both times. I was standing for one, and on my knees leaning against the side of the pool for the other.

I didn't need entonox for the waterbirths, but I did have it for the first birth so i can't see why you weren't given it.

Elasticwoman Thu 09-Oct-08 22:42:21

Sorry - to be clearer - I was in 1st stage until the head crowned for both waterbirths.

Tillyscoutsmum Thu 09-Oct-08 22:52:44

I found the pushing stage difficult. Like you, I had been expecting the contractions to be hellish and thought it would take me forever to fully dilate (it was quicker and less painful than I had anticipated) but I was then pushing for just over 2 hours. I had 2nd degree tearing and a 9lb 12 oz dd. I was also encouraged to lie on my back (having been upright and mobile throughout the contractions) and I had two midwives holding a leg up each because I apparently wasn't pushing hard enough sad No gas & air either.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Thu 09-Oct-08 23:18:18

my pushing stage lasted 49 mins but seemed shorter. i found it a massive relief after the hell of contractions. ,y mw told me not to lie down and supported me to deliver standing up, and i had gas and air throughout. can't imagine labouring/delivering lying down shock

anonymxxx Fri 10-Oct-08 06:32:55

I was induced due to severe Pre-eclampsia and was laying on my left side (I was on synto for 12h without pain relief and too weak/thrown to stand up. Plus, they didn't give me any water during the 12h labour due to pre-eclampisa!!!)
I used to stir-ups to press my right leg against. I tried to lean over back, but they lost the trace and freaked out, so I had to lay back down. After two hours, I agreed to an episio (was really weak by then), then was told something had happen soon or ... [instrument delivery]. From some unknown depths I was then charged, got up in a squat on the bed supported by DH and gave birth. Hmm. I have never described the birth. Not the birth I had hoped for (HB with IM, but not too traumatic).

benandoli Fri 10-Oct-08 10:29:07

you sound like you had a fairly easy time for a first birth to be honest. My arms felt as if they had run a marathon for about a week afterwards. As they say labour is called labour for a very good reason!

idobelieveinghosts Fri 10-Oct-08 12:00:32

I was on my back pushing for all births.

1st about an hour..but she had arm wrapped round neck and no-one could work out why she kept slipping back..i moved on to side, she moved and then popped out.

2nd pushing for 20 mins
3rd for 10 mins
4th for 3 mins

It was always getting to the pushing stage that was hard work for me.

BabyBaby123 Fri 10-Oct-08 20:50:28

my first, I pushed for 3 1/2 hours, stuck laying on my back and numb from an epidural so no idea if i was pushing right or not - was delivered by ventouse in the end....

my second i stayed up right throughout and when the head was crowning i got on my side - second stage was about 30 minutes.

hoping this one will be a repeat of number 2 or even better smile

random Fri 10-Oct-08 21:02:21

Only pushed for 5 mins must have a fango like a bucket grin

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