It seems there are two sides to the argument of just exactly which is the best way to move your baby through the birth canal:
- breathing baby out, or
- actively pushing.
Both have their advantages and one way may not work the best for one mother like it does another. But this post will focus on the aspects and mechanics of breathing baby out.
What You Need To Breathe Baby Out
- To keep your pelvis aligned while bearing down, use a Squatty Potty and also reduce pain and risk of hemorrhoids.
- Keep your tissues pliable with natural Stretch Oil that’s also great for your belly and preventing stretch marks.
- You’ll want a Recovery Bundle asap after giving birth for easing discomfort and promote healing.
- From the grandmother of midwifery, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide To Childbirth goes through more detail.
- How To Relax During Childbirth: 3 Simple Ways To Ease Tension & Enhance Joy, for mastering how to relax, even while pushing.
Breathing Baby Out
You know those stories that pop up in the news on occasion about the mother who gave birth in their car? Often the articles will quote on of the parents saying, almost always, “The baby just delivered himself.”
Most babies can come WITHOUT you seriously pushing. It’s a common things many people don’t understand. I thought I was supposed to push as hard as I could with my first baby.
But certain things can happen that make active pushing not the best option.
Benefits Of Breathing Baby Out
When you allow ONLY your uterine muscles to work, the rest of your body doesn’t get in the way. So your body is more able to many things.
Allow Your Tissues To Stretch
If you have added extra force behind your body’s natural abilities, it can increase your odds of tearing or causing greater trauma to your nether region.
Plus, your chances of having those terrible hemorrhoids goes down. Use some Stretch Oil everywhere to help with that when you feel tight.
It’s Easier On The Baby
Imagine you live in a dark, wet, snug environment. Then you’re suddenly thrust through intense pressure and constriction.
Do you think it would be harder than say, slowly sliding through a snug tunnel slide, as carefully as you could? I do.
You Save Energy
Pushing is exhausting! You’ve already gone through your labor, for who knows how long. Then you have to continue with what may be the most difficult part of your delivery. (It may also be the easiest 🙂 )
If you can learn how to let your body do it on its own, for the most part, it’s not as exhausting as it could be.
You Recover Faster & Easier
Vaginal delivery recovery can be a long road after that baby arrives. If you’re able to cause less damage by breathing out your baby, it can mean the difference between feeling like your old self again in a few days versus a few years.
More Oxygen Reaches Your Baby
Traditional pushing encourages you to hold your breath so that the pressure from your abdominal cavity is consistent through a push. It’s legitimate logic, and that’s why it works fine for some.
But if you’re breathing your baby out and have steady slow breaths, you don’t end up gasping for air because you also lack the needed oxygen for yourself too.
Yet, here must be a few reasons why most mothers aren’t able to accomplish this feat as easy as others.
The Hard Parts About This
The fact is it IS often mentally more challenging to just stay there and let your uterus do the work when the natural feeling to help is very strong.
I know the moment I first felt that downward motion from inside of me I wanted to push and get everything over with. It’s the moment when you can DO something with your body!
To Push Or Not To Push
Many mothers feel that increase of pressure and can get overwhelmed with it as the baby descends. They end up pushing even harder so that it can just END.
Have you ever just tried to push out a bowel movement faster than you probably should have so you could get on with your day?
You can see how it’s annoying, frustrating and difficult to just wait for the body to do things. Our minds are too impatient.
Two Steps Forward And One Step Back
Another thing is it’s like taking two steps forward and one step back with every contraction.
Your perineum and vagina are stretchy tissues—yes. But they also want to spring back to their most comfortable positions of not being stretched at all.
Like a rubber band, you have to have something holding it in its stretched position, even though it wants to contract back to its natural state.
So it may FEEL like it’s taking longer to deliver your baby this way because it’s slow going with the motions. But most often, the entire act of birth isn’t a quick process either.
So why should the end of it be any different, according to your body?
How Do I Breathe My Baby Out?
It sure would be great if you could just lay there and let your natural breathing do all the work while you watch your favorite movie. And for a lucky few of you, it may be just that.
Remember those mothers birthing in their vehicles, claiming that it just happened? Babies CAN birth themselves and often would if mothers would implement a few steps in doing so.
When you’re fully dilated and your baby has descended as far as possible, THEN your uterus will start pushing. This DOESN’T mean that YOU need to start pushing!
1) Wait as long as you can.
Your uterus will naturally do most of the work for you. Those bear-down urges will get stronger by themselves.
2) Push only when it’s impossible NOT to.
The farther down your baby is, the stronger those urges will become. It can reach a point when you simply can’t resist that urge to push along with. That’s okay!
3) Relax your jaw
Ina May Gaskin teaching that your face and mouth are physiologically linked to your pelvic floor. Your breathing begins and ends at both of those places, respectively.
When your face, jaw, neck and shoulders are completely relaxed, it allows your lower pelvic area to fully relax also. Don’t ask me exactly how it works, but I believe it’s for this very purpose.
Related: Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth
4) Open mouthed “ahhs”
Let your jaw just hang there as you breathe. Take in a deep breath as your normally would, then slowly exhale as if you’re saying a very quiet “ahh.”
You’re NOT forcefully pushing out the air, but allowing it to slowly escape from your lungs.
5) Exhale downward
When you normally exhale, your lungs and abdominal cavity compress. However, when you exhale with your slow “ahs,” have your lower belly take the motion downward. The slight pressure from pushing out your exhale is compensated for by pushing your baby out in the other direction.
So that’s the process. Here are some additional tips for you.
This may come easier for mothers who have gone through childbirth before. There’s no harm in pushing when the urge is too great that it just happens. But doing so before the time is right can make things more difficult until the end.
Visualize Your Baby Descending
With your eyes closed, you can imagine of your baby coming into the world. If it helps to have a mirror so you can see it, by all means do so!
When the mind is in sync with the body’s actions, inner tension can disappear.
Practice As You Poop
I know … I said ‘poop’. But really, it’s the BEST way to practice what you’ve learned. It’s the first thing my midwife told me to do when I mentioned that I didn’t want to tear again after having torn twice.
As the pressure of that bowel movement builds, practice doing these steps. You’ll know what I mean when you get there. And it can SURE teach you patience. Just trust me and give it a try.
I’m not ruling this out, and neither should you. Practice every day when you visit the bathroom and you’ll be glad you did. Here are the steps again:
- Wait as long as you can.
- Push only when it’s impossible not to.
- Relax your jaw and all other muscles.
- Breathe with open-mouthed “ahhs”.
- Exhale downward.
Remember to also be patient, and practice visualizing the beautiful experience. 🙂