Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Pushing" for a Gentle Birth

My husband and I have had 4 beautiful all natural water births, and are looking forward to our 5th in the next few weeks.  If you've read my birth plan, then you may have noticed #6: "I will not start pushing until my body starts pushing on its own. If I get an undesirable urge to push before then, my midwife will check to make sure I am fully dilated. Ideally, I will try not to ever push to make sure the baby comes out as easy as possible."  I want to use this BWB post to talk about my experiences with pushing.

Isaiah still in water seconds after his birth
With Isaiah, our first born, I pushed with every contraction as soon as I found out I was 10 cms dilated.  I felt like I was pushing against a brick wall.  Now, I know that I should've waited until my body started pushing on its own.  Of course, my midwife wasn't intending on my forced pushing.  She told me to push if it felt good.  I was pushing because I thought that my baby would get into my arms faster if I did.  Well, that pushing lasted for 4 hours.  Isaiah was fine.  Our midwife kept a close watch on his heartrate, and when he started crowning, she kept a close eye on his skin coloring.  The only issue he had was that the plates in his skull were very overlapped, and even caused the roof of his mouth to not be smooth which effected his ability to latch on well.  Isaiah does not have hemophilia, and I am so glad because I think all that time in the birth canal may have caused problems if he had hemophilia.  As it was, the overlapping issue was resolved in a few days, and he was just fine.

Right after Ana's birth
Ana, our second, was another story!  I didn't mention in the previous paragraph that Isaiah was 9#8oz at birth!  Well, Ana was only 7#4oz.  That is a significant difference!  My midwife would not tell me when to push.  She said, I would let them know when it was time for me to push.  So, I waited.  It didn't take long at all until all of a sudden I was pushing with a contraction.  It just happened!  I wasn't trying to push or anything.  It was a natural response to my body's birthing process.  Within 6 minutes, she was born.  It was amazing!  Ana is a carrier of severe hemophilia A like I am, and did not have any issues at birth.

Elijah hours after delivery
Our third birth, Elijah was very different from Ana's birth.  If you read his story, you'll get a better idea.  One thing I did right was that I "tested" pushing with a few contractions, not a lot, just a very little start of a push.  It did not feel right.  So, I did not push.  I only started pushing when it felt right.  Which brings up the issue of epidurals.  Yes, they occasionally have their place, but they should be avoided for so many reasons.  Knowing when it feels right to push being one of those main reasons.  I learned in my first birth, that you can push too soon even after you're dilated to 10cms!  Ok, off the soapbox and back to Eli's birth.  When it did feel right to push, I quickly realized that this baby was BIG.  He wasn't coming out easy like Ana did, and I didn't want him to be in the birth canal as long as Isaiah was.  So, I P-U-S-H-E-D harder than I had ever pushed before!  When his head came out, my body rested as it always does.  It felt like forever!!  When I began pushing again and his shoulders and torso came out, I thought he was totally out, and went to scoop him into my arms.  "One more push! one more push!" my midwife and husband said.  I gave another little push, and that big 10#14oz bubba was in my arms!!  He was pink, and had no bruising at all.  If you read this blog, you know that Eli is our hemohiliac.  We didn't know until he was 4 months old that he had hemophilia.  I believe with all my heart that God's grace, the gentleness of his birth and my management of the pushing stage of his birth are credited with his safety.  It blows me away that our severe hemophiliac was the one that was almost 11#s at birth! 

Malakai just minutes after delivery
Malakai's birth was a breeze.  Like Ana, I didn't have to actually push at all.  My body just pushed him right out.  He was only 7#12oz.  He did have a meconium issue after his birth, and he was fine once they got it all suctioned out of him.  If you would like to see one of our births for yourself, we have a very non-graphic video of Malakai's birth on youtube.  His birth was the first one that we planned in the knowledge that our baby had a 50% chance of having hemophilia

All of our births have been water births.  I am a true believer in water birth.  I think it is a major cause of the gentleness of our births.  I have blogged about this before in:  Why I Love Water Birth:part 1 and Why I Love Water Birth: part 2.

The conclusions I draw from all my various pushing experiences are these:

1.  Don't push just because you are 10 cms.

2.  Focus on relaxing and staying "on top" of the intensity of your contractions.  If you are working with your body, your body will naturally start pushing on it's own, and you may not have to push at all.

3.  Only push when it feels right.  Sometimes, with very large babies, it may be necessary to push with your body.  I personally do not believe it is good for a hemophiliac to stay in the birth canal for a long time based on seeing what happened to Isaiah's head.  So, I do believe I did the right thing in pushing very hard with my body to get Eli out as soon as possible.

4.  Being as relaxed as possible, and in a position that allows gravity to help the process helps the pushing stage be much easier on mom and baby.

Thank you for your interest in Bubble Wrapped Birth.  As always, please don't just take my word for anything.  Do your own research.  Talk to your doctor or midwife.  This is what I believe and what I know works for me.  However, I do hope I have sparked some thoughts about the 2nd stage of labor that you may not have had before.  Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so excited to read your tips on natural childbirth. What this really is, is educating mom's in the miracle of birth. How I wish "I knew then what I know now"! I'm so proud of you & what you give to others! Keep up the great work. Love you, Mom


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