Isn’t there one way to push?
Typically in movies, television shows and even many childbirth materials, the mother is depicted in a semi-reclined position with her feet in stirrups to deliver, or give birth to her baby. This is often referred to as the lithotomy position. This position can be beneficial to the care giver in the case that complications arise so he or she can take necessary action. It’s also helpful to the woman who has chosen epidural analgesia for pain relief, who may not have much feeling in her legs. The lithotomy position makes it easier for the nurses, doulas or family member supporting the laboring women to help support legs and assist the mother during delivery.
Are there other ways to push?
There are actually several different positions a laboring mother can assume to push her baby out, and many that can be more effective than the lithotomy position. While the semi-reclined, lithotomy position allows many mothers to deliver their babies safely, not all women have success with it. Because of the path the baby must travel through the pelvis and birth canal, birthing in this position can put undue pressure on the tail bone and perineum, leading to injured tail bones and vaginal tears.
Even if injury doesn’t occur, depending on the baby’s size and position, it may just be more difficult to push in this positon. Many mothers who follow the cues of their body during labor and birth will instinctually assume various positions for birth that allow them to push in the way that feels right and may feel more successful.
Some alternative ways to push are:
- Hands and Knees
- Side-lying with one leg raised
- Birthing in water
How to Teach Pushing Positions in Childbirth Classes
It always helps to demonstrate and have visual aids when teaching women and their partners how to push effectively during second stage of labor. Our Labor/Pushing Positions Illustrated Chart Cards depict 44 full color photos of 19 different positions for labor and birth and are incredibly helpful for doulas, childbirth educators and nurses to demonstrate helpful alternatives for pushing.