safe motherhood



Lying on your back or in a semi-recumbent position makes pushing harder because the curve of the birth passage means that you have to push your baby 'uphill' - exhausting for both of you.

Get gravity on your side and choose a kneeling or all-fours position, or squat down, with your labour companion supporting you.

If you're really tired, lie down on your left side and let your companion hold your top leg while you are pushing.

• Go with your body and push when you want to push if your midwife says you can.
• While you push, try holding your breath for short periods, or blowing out steadily. Try both techniques to see which is best for you.(But try not to hold your breath for long periods because this might push up your blood pressure and decrease the amount of oxygen available for your baby and your uterus.)
• It is more effective to get two or three short pushes in with each contraction rather than one long push.
• Relax as soon as the contraction has passed.

As your baby's head crowns:

• you will feel a burning sensation around your vagina. Loosen your mouth - a relaxed mouth means a relaxed vagina
• be guided by your midwife. She will advise you to pant rather than push with your contractions, so that the baby's head comes out slowly
• try a combination of panting and blowing while thinking to yourself:

`I will not push'
(pant / pant / pant / blow).

This will help your perineum (the area around your vagina) to stretch gently so that you don't tear or need stitches.