How to Push During Labor and Delivery?

Rachel Adams
8 Min Read

The final stage of childbirth, known as the pushing or second stage of labor, is an intense and transformative experience. As you prepare to welcome your little one into the world, understanding the pushing process and mastering effective techniques can help make this journey smoother and more empowering. This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to navigate the pushing stage successfully.

Understanding the Stages of Labor

Before we delve into the details of pushing, it’s essential to understand the three primary stages of labor:

1. The First Stage (Early Labor and Active Labor): During this stage, your cervix dilates and thins out (effaces) to prepare for the baby’s descent.

2. The Second Stage (The Pushing Stage): This stage begins when your cervix is fully dilated (typically around 10 centimeters), and you feel an intense urge to push.

3. The Third Stage (Delivery of the Placenta): After your baby is born, you’ll continue to experience contractions to help expel the placenta.

When to Start Pushing

Timing is crucial when it comes to pushing during labor. While the urge to push may be overwhelming, it’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s guidance. Pushing too early can lead to exhaustion and complications, while pushing too late may increase risks for you and your baby.

Generally, you should start pushing when:

  • Your cervix is fully dilated (10 centimeters).
  • You feel an intense, involuntary urge to bear down or push.

Your healthcare provider will monitor your progress closely and let you know when it’s time to start pushing effectively.

Techniques for Effective Pushing

Pushing effectively can help make the delivery process smoother and less stressful. Here we are some of the proven techniques to consider:

1. Proper Positioning: Your healthcare provider may suggest various positions that can aid in pushing, such as semi-sitting, squatting, or side-lying. Find a comfortable position that allows you to engage your abdominal muscles effectively.

2. Controlled Breathing: Take deep breaths and exhale slowly while pushing. This can help you focus your energy and manage the intensity of contractions.

3. Visualization: Imagine your baby descending and visualize the birth process. This mental imagery will simply helps you to stay motivated and keeps you focused.

4. Vocalization: Some women find it helpful to make low, grunting noises or even vocalize during pushes. This can release tension and assist in pushing effectively.

5. Perineal Support: Your healthcare provider may apply gentle counter-pressure to the perineal area (the area between the vagina and rectum) to help control the speed of the baby’s descent and prevent tearing.

Stages of Labor

Tips for Successful Pushing

Here are some additional tips to help you push successfully during labor and delivery:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink fluids regularly to maintain hydration and energy levels.
  • Rest Between Contractions: Conserve your energy by resting and relaxing between contractions.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s cues and push when you feel the urge.
  • Accept Encouragement: Allow your partner, doula, or healthcare provider to encourage and motivate you.
  • Don’t Resist the Urge: Resisting the urge to push can be counterproductive and may prolong the labor process.

Common Challenges and Solutions

While pushing during labor and delivery is a natural process, it can present some challenges. Here we are sharing some of the common challenges and potential solutions:

1. Fatigue: If you become exhausted during the pushing stage, your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • Changing positions
  • Resting
  • Exploring alternative pain management options

2. Fetal Distress: If your baby shows signs of distress, your healthcare provider may suggest interventions like:

  • Oxygen supplementation
  • Episiotomy (a small incision to aid delivery)
  • Cesarean delivery

3. Shoulder Dystocia: This occurs when the baby’s shoulders become stuck after the head has been delivered. Your healthcare provider may guide you through specific maneuvers or positions to facilitate the delivery.

4. Prolonged Second Stage: If the pushing stage is prolonged, your healthcare provider may consider interventions like:

  • Forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
  • Cesarean delivery

Role of Medical Interventions

In some cases, medical interventions may be necessary to ensure the safety of you and your baby. These interventions can include:

  • Episiotomy: A small incision made in the perineal area to help facilitate delivery and prevent tearing.
  • Forceps or Vacuum Extraction: These instruments are used to gently assist in the delivery of the baby when additional traction is needed.
  • Cesarean Delivery (C-Section): In cases where vaginal delivery is not possible or poses risks, a cesarean delivery may be recommended, involving a surgical procedure to deliver the baby through an incision in the abdomen.

Your healthcare provider will discuss these options with you and guide you through the decision-making process, ensuring you understand the potential risks and benefits.

Also Read : How to Reduce Labour Pain

Post-Delivery Recovery

After the incredible journey of childbirth, your body will undergo changes as it recovers from the physical and emotional demands of labor and delivery. Here are some important aspects to consider during the postpartum recovery period:

  • Rest and Relaxation: Allow your body to heal and recover by resting as much as possible in the days and weeks following childbirth.
  • Pain Management: Your healthcare provider may recommend pain relief options, such as over-the-counter or prescription medications, to help manage discomfort and promote healing.
  • Postpartum Bleeding: Expect some vaginal bleeding, known as lochia, for several weeks after delivery. Inform your healthcare provider if the bleeding becomes excessive or accompanied by severe cramping.
  • Perineal Care: If you experienced perineal tearing or an episiotomy, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for proper wound care and hygiene.
  • Breastfeeding Support: If you plan to breastfeed, seek guidance from lactation consultants or healthcare professionals to ensure a successful breastfeeding experience.
  • Mental and Emotional Well-being: Prioritize your mental and emotional health during this transitional period. Seek support from loved ones, join support groups, or consult a mental health professional if needed.


Pushing during labor and delivery is a challenging but rewarding experience that marks the final stage of your incredible journey to motherhood. By understanding the process, learning effective techniques, and following your healthcare provider’s guidance, you can navigate this journey with confidence and strength. Remember, every birth experience is unique, and it’s essential to stay focused, listen to your body, and embrace the support of your healthcare team and loved ones.

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Rachel Adams, is an expert on women's health. Her work at is aimed in helping women understand their bodies better through easy-to-read articles and blogs. With Rachel, you get an advice that you can trust. In women's health topics, she covers everything from pregnancy tips to staying healthy after childbirth. Her writing style is clear and friendly, making even the complex topics easy to understand. Rachel's mission is to empower women with the knowledge they need to make smart choices about their health. Whether you're expecting a baby or just want to feel your best, Rachel's articles are here to guide you through every step of your decisions
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