In HypnoBirthing, we break childbirth into 2 phases: labor and birth. Labor is when the cervix is thinning and opening to prepare for the baby to move down through the birth path. The actual birth phase is when the baby is moving down the birth path (vagina) and out into the world. This 2nd phase is more commonly referred to as the pushing phase. Just as labor can vary from one birth to another, so can the birthing phase. For some, the birthing phase happens in a matter of minutes and for others, it can take many hours. Most women would prefer shorter labor and birth, leading to the question of how to push a baby out fast. Well, let’s talk about it.
Is it Better to Birth Your Baby Quickly or Slowly?
While at face value, it may seem better to push a baby out quickly, there are benefits to allowing your body to slowly bring your baby down to crowning and breathing your baby out. At moments it may feel like you are taking 3 steps forward and 2 steps back with each surge, but this is all a part of birth’s intelligent design. The slow descent of a baby through the birth path allows for 1) the baby’s fontanels to shift and make the baby’s head more narrow and 2) the perineal folds to slowly stretch and prevent tearing.
Still, we can understand the desire to prepare your mind and body to birth your baby within a reasonable amount of time. Plus, many doctors and midwives have expectations for how long a mom should push before recommending interventions. That being said, here are some tips to prepare for and support your body during the birthing phase.
Wait for the Fetal Ejection Reflex
You may have heard women talk about feeling an uncontrollable urge to push their baby out. This incredible sensation is a reflex referred to as the Fetal Ejection Reflex (FER). Some women experience a resting period between when their cervix is completely dilated and when they feel the FER. It could be minutes or hours, but waiting for this urge to push allows the birthing person to work with their body’s physiology and can shorten the amount of time that they are actually “pushing”. In fact, when the FER kicks in, women may find themselves focusing on breathing to slow the descent of the baby and prevent tearing.
Speaking of breathing, the birth breath (also known as the J breath) is a breathing technique taught in HypnoBirthing that brings oxygen to the uterine muscles and directs the mother’s energy downward and out. This breath helps gently and effectively move the baby down through the birth path. Studies show that pushing does not help the baby come out any faster than breathing the baby down.
Another toning exercise you may learn in your HypnoBirthing class is perineal massage. This is a massage technique that is believed to help prepare your perineum for birth. It works by gently massaging the perineum to stretch and tone it. The belief is that massage before and during birth can help the perineum gently stretch and open to help women push their baby’s out faster and with less tearing. It also prepares women by showing them the location and intensity of the pressure they will feel on their rectum when the baby descends.
One last option to help you birth your baby out faster (but not necessarily too fast), is to use upright positing. Standing, squatting, and throne position are a few examples of upright birth positions. Upright birth works with gravity to help the baby quickly descend. There are alternative positions that may not be “upright”, but can still help create more space in the pelvis to push your baby out past. Side-lying is a great example of a non-upright, but beneficial position. Talk with your HypnoBirthing® instructor to discuss additional birth positions.