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11th Aug 2022

Women who don’t push during childbirth are less likely to experience ‘tearing’

Melissa Carton

Push, push, push!

It’s something we’ve heard in every depiction of childbirth on TV and in films and something we just expect to be a part of labour. But is it really necessary?

Nine out of ten women experience some form of vaginal tearing during childbirth and some experts believe this could be avoided by cutting back on ‘pushing’.

My first child was born via emergency caesarean so when it came to giving natural birth the second time around it was all new to me.

When I was wheeled into the delivery room I did what I thought I was supposed to do and started pushing but the midwife told me to stop. In the end, my daughter arrived with very little pushing and no tearing on my part.

Since giving birth to my daughter I’ve found reports that suggest that woman who push less or not at all are 85 per cent less likely to experience severe vaginal tearing on average.

In recent years the Royal College of Midwives supported by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists implemented a new trial program in a Kent hospital.

The aim of the trial was to try and reduce the number of women experiencing vaginal tearing during labour.

By simply not putting pressure on women to lie on their backs and push, they found that it reduced the number of third and fourth-degree perineal tears from seven per cent to one per cent, an 85 per cent reduction.

During both of my pregnancies, I found that there seems to be a larger emphasis on encouraging woman to give birth in alternative positions, not just lying down.

There is also a rise in hospitals providing alternative methods to childbirth like birthing pools and hypnobirthing.

During the program tested in the UK midwives also allowed the babies to take their own time to emerge once their heads have pushed through.

The results of the British program was found to be so successful that it was published in the European Journal Of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and there are now plans to implement it in other hospitals.

During my interview with hypnobirthing midwife Nadia Arthurs she said;

“Fear creates tension in the body and can make birthing more difficult. Muscle remembers and generally speaking second time mums usually have more confidence in their body’s ability to deliver their baby.”

Excessive pushing could contribute to this tension during childbirth. It’s not always easy to remain calm during childbirth but keeping calm and minimum pushing can significantly reduce the difficulty of the labour and reduce the risk of tearing.