What you’re about to read is likely controversial, probably not recommended, nothing I would encourage my doula clients to do and definitely not something I teach in my childbirth classes.
However, pushing before 10 cm dilated worked for me so here’s my story.
Pushing Before 10 Cm Dilated
What I mean when I say “pushing before 10 cm dilated” is that
1) I knew I was not fully dilated
2) I did not have the urge to push but
3) I decided to push with 1-2 transition contractions which then
4) brought on the urge to push.
This is totally different than having an early urge to push (feeling the urge to push before you’re fully dilated).
Let me break it down for you…
Here’s an excerpt from my daughter’s birth where I pushed before 10 cm dilated…
“So around 6:30 am I needed to have my second round of antibiotics. I got on my son’s bed and they placed the IV. (I never thought I would have spent so much time in my son’s room on his bed while in labor. I kinda felt bad, like I was invading his space. (Thinking about it now it makes sense why I was in there so much… because it was between the bathroom and the birth pool. Convenient.)
I’m not sure if the IV came next or the vomiting. Or if the vomiting came first and then the IV. But I remember vomiting and feeling totally desperate, terrible, experiencing double peaking contractions and crying. Ugh. It was so freaking hard. I didn’t do anything to cope “correctly” through this. I cried and white knuckled it.
I went to the bathroom and then around 7 am I gave up waiting for the sun to come up (lol) and asked for my midwife to break my water. So I got on my son’s bed again (poor kid… but he was on his way to my neighbor’s home at this point so he didn’t see this part) so Diana could break my water. OMG. Getting on my back for a vaginal exam during transition is HELL. She went in there with her cool little tool and you know what? It freaking didn’t work. She tried for like a minute and it didn’t work. There wasn’t anything to snag. So she tried during a contraction to see if the pressure would cause there to be some sort of bulge to snag and… no go.
Oh. My. Gosh. I was in so much pain. My contractions weren’t stopping. They would peak and then peak again. I cried out for somebody to help me get up/save me/whatever because I was in so much distress. After that contraction was over I did a little internal self-talk.
“Lindsey, you need to be brave. You need to get up and move”
And so I got up. And I was brave.
And then I got a little irrational because I decided I was going to break my water myself. While I was on all fours on the floor of my son’s room I reached down and tried to stick my fingers in my vagina to break my water. Yeah, I couldn’t figure out how to break my water. However, I did put my fingers in and I did felt her head and my cervix. Oh my gosh. To feel that sensation… it was wild. And over stimulating. And I guess motivating.
So after that contraction was over I decided to just start pushing. I figured I would break my water by pushing during the next contraction. And so I pushed.
And a trickle of water ran down my leg. I confessed to my midwife that I decided to push even though I didn’t have the urge to push and she said “OK!”. Her student midwife asked me if my water broke. I told her I thought I peed on myself. She quickly tested the liquid and confirmed it was amniotic fluid. That was 7:35 am.
Another contraction came and I felt the urge to push. That was 7:40 am.
Again, with my positive self talk I told myself to be brave and get up off the floor.
And so I was brave and I stood up. I walked over to my birth pool and I got in.”
Here’s an excerpt from my other daughter’s birth where I pushed before 10 cm dilated…
“After that things got bad again (as they typically do right before you have a baby). I kept thinking to myself that I literally could not keep doing this. I had Tanashia check me and I was maybe 7/8 cm. I was so not happy with that. I felt like crawling out of my skin! I took off my clothes because they were so awful. I took off those monitors because they hurt the crap out of my skin and I couldn’t deal. I told Tanashia she’s going to have to hold the monitor there because I couldn’t handle having the strap on me. I felt bad for her for a few seconds (I would have felt bad for her longer but you know… Pitocin) because she was her awesome self and held the monitor there (continuous monitoring because Pitocin) and at one point I could feel her hand shaking trying to keep it on there. Sorry!
I decided that just like last time with Eden, I needed to take matters in my own hands and get this baby out of my body. I started squatting. I tried pushing a little bit during a contraction to see if it would do something, change something (it didn’t). I checked myself… and compared to earlier that day I felt the baby’s head A LOT but I could tell that I was still around 7/8 cm dilated. UGH! I started telling myself positive affirmations like, “I get to meet my baby.” I probably said that like 50 times. That was one of the few things that kept me going.
Towards the end I was getting seriously desperate. I was on fire and was not coping well. I had Tanashia turn the pit down and or maybe even off. I think she complied. 😉 I got up on the bed on all fours. I decided that I just HAD to start pushing even though I didn’t have the urge the push. These Pitocin contractions HAD to stop. I just couldn’t deal. And so I pushed with a contraction… and I felt nothing. Tanashia asked me if I was pushing and I said no… because I wasn’t really pushing…right? And another contraction came and I pushed again and this time I felt the urge to push which to me, was like someone starting a horse race by opening the doors. Hurry up and push her out because OMG I can’t take this HELL anymore!
And so I pushed and my lovely friends quickly assembled to wherever they needed to be. I really didn’t care. I didn’t think of who was or wasn’t in the room. All I wanted was the contractions to stop. I remember Brooke at one point asking Tanashia if she wanted her to wheel the table over that had the delivery stuff on it.”
During my first birth I didn’t push before having the urge to push. And I don’t think it would have helped me very much. Here’s why…
Reasons to NOT Push Before 10 cm Dilated
First Time Mom
A first time mom’s muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, bones… basically their entire pelvis, is different than a mom’s pelvis that has previously given birth. Although I have no evidence to support this, I have a feeling that one of the reasons this worked so well for me is because I had previously given birth. My body was ready to go, it just needed a little bit of pressure, a boost if you will, from me.
I’m not convinced that additional pressure brought on by pushing prematurely from a first time mom would do anything except potentially complicate things, possibly swell her cervix.
(I would LOVE to hear from a first time mom who found this to be false!)
You Don’t Want To
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
During the births of my daughters when I pushed before feeling the urge to push, I did it because that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to do it so badly! It was all I was thinking about. I was sick and tired of transition and I wanted something to change. I was pretty irrational and fixated on this idea of pushing at 8 cm.
If you find yourself in transition and you don’t want to push before you’re 10 cm, there’s no reason why you should. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Follow your body’s instincts.
Your Care Provider Says No
If your care provider says this is a bad idea, listen to them. They’ve got your back. (probably)
A Malpositioned Baby
If your baby is in a bad position, pushing it further down in the pelvis will not help you to progress more quickly. (probably… there’s no absolutes when it comes to birth)
If your baby is asynclitic, which means your baby is trying to be born with its forehead first or maybe its head is tilted to its shoulder, she is not descending in the ideal head position (chin tucked down) and pushing it further into the pelvis is not helpful.
My advice is to correct a baby’s position before you go all irrational like I did and push before 10 cm dilated.
Would I do it again?
Pushing before I felt the urge to push, at 8 cm dilated during transition worked for me 2 out of 2 times. So yes, if I were in that predicament again I would ABSOLUTELY do it again.
Again, take my experience with a grain of salt – this might not be your next best thing. Listen to your body and follow its lead.
Leave a comment.
Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever heard of this. Am I the only crazy pants who decided to do this and it worked?