Get Up! Stand Up!

Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice 
Avoid Giving Birth on your Back and Follow the Body's Urges to Push

I had watched it so many times over the past eight years.  The birth of my son-born in a hospital in NJ in 2001 and caught on tape.  I had viewed it with friends, family, and even my son had watched it more than once. This time however, I wasn’t so eager.  The idea of sitting down with my doula and watching my previous hospital birth as I prepared for my homebirth was not so appealing. 

“Push…Push…Push…” The doctor’s high pitched, screeching voice-"Push Push Push"-the nurse counting in my face-the confusion and fear as I lay there on my back in the hospital bed.  I realized as I listened and watched why I had not wanted to experience the video again.   There is a point where you can hear me say “I don’t understand what to do-do I push-what do I do?” All the direction, all the shouting and commotion-I was not encouraged to listen to my own body and therefore I was lost. 

It seemed counterintuitive to me then-working against gravity, listening to what others were telling me to do with my own body.  When I think back to that moment-the moment of pushing my first-born son out into the world-I can’t even remember if I had the urge to push-or more accurately if I experienced it.  I do remember feeling out of breath and yearning to get out of that awful position-to crawl away from all those annoying voices that I can still hear so clearly to this day: “Push…Push…Push…”   

Knowing that the pushing stage was often the most managed part of labor I had addressed these very issues in my birth plan. Not sure if they had even read it.  I knew the research-I had read all about it and felt the truth in my body.  The opportunity to push in an upright position, squatting, hands and knees-anything other than lying on your back is favorable for so many reasons.  The first and most obvious (you would think) is GRAVITY!!  In addition one usually experiences less pain, a shorter second stage, fewer fetal heart rate abnormalities, fewer episiotomies, and being upright may help prevent the use of forceps or a vacuum.  Your body knows what is best for both you and your baby. Getting up and trying different positions helps you to work WITH your baby and WITH gravity and WITH your body-opening your pelvis and creating space for your baby to wiggle out.

I still don’t understand what all the shouting was about.  It makes sense that pushing in response to YOUR natural urge to push would be the most beneficial.  By tuning in and listening-and trusting your own natural urge the baby will get more oxygen, you will avoid exhaustion, and you will probably experience less damage to your perineum and pelvic floor muscles.  Not to mention you will most likely suffer less confusion and fear. I remember feeling so disoriented and not quite sure who to listen to-the doctor squealing “Push,” the nurse shouting out numbers, or to my own body that was begging me to slow down. 

Not that I needed any reassurance at all but watching this video validated my decision to have a homebirth.  Throughout my whole pregnancy my midwife and doula encouraged me to trust my body, to tune in and birth in awareness.  When it came time to push I simply stepped into the birth pool, got on my hands and knees (the position I chose)-declared it was time and began pushing.   Sure there were some questions asked-mainly about why it had to be this way and were they sure the baby was coming out of the right place but the gentle, calm reassurances I received were enough to encourage me to push through.  No one needed to direct me, no one needed to shout at me, no one needed to do much but just be with me.  I felt the urge, I tuned in, I had a little inner dialogue, and my son was born after only ten minutes of pushing-just in time to hear the rooster crow.


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