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Pushing Before 10 Cm Dilated Worked for Me

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).

This is likely controversial, probably not recommended, nothing I would recommend to my doula clients and definitely not something I teach in my childbirth classes. However, pushing before 10 cm dilated worked for me so here's my story.

Let me break it down for you…

Birth #2

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.

This is likely controversial, probably not recommended, nothing I would recommend to my doula clients and definitely not something I teach in my childbirth classes. However, pushing before 10 cm dilated worked for me so here's my story.

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.”

This is likely controversial, probably not recommended, nothing I would recommend to my doula clients and definitely not something I teach in my childbirth classes. However, pushing before 10 cm dilated worked for me so here's my story.

If you want to read the rest click here.

Birth #3

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!

This is likely controversial, probably not recommended, nothing I would recommend to my doula clients and definitely not something I teach in my childbirth classes. However, pushing before 10 cm dilated worked for me so here's my story.

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.”

If you want to read the rest click here.

Birth #1

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?


Saturday 2nd of March 2019

I HAD to give birth at 6cm (Stretching to 8 because I was fully effaced) honestly my labor was an absolute DISASTER but to summarize why this happened, I was 2 days past my due date when my blood pressure suddenly SKYROCKETED! So my OB decided it was best to induce the next day. I have a severe anxiety disorder as well (which comes into play later) I had accidentally been give 2x the Pitocin I was supposed to receive due to shift changes and the original nurse forgetting to write I had already been induced. Now my doctor is a SAINT! I was in labor for 33 hours total (18 hours early labor; 15 active; my Dr. had scraped my membrane the day prior to my induction and I almost immediately started having mild contractions. The hope was I'd go into full blown labor BEFORE my scheduled induction at 5 am the next morning but nope! I was still in the early labor phase...) And my doctor STAYED in the hospital the entire 15 hours I was there until it was "go time." Back to me after being induced twice, it probably wasn't even 2 hours before I called the epidural...and here's where thing went really south, really fast. They had 4 professionals try to place the epidural but apparently my spinal plates are too close together. So...I just had to grind my way through this disaster. My daughter, who was perfectly positioned from 32 weeks, decided to turn from stress. I was being yanked and push ed every which way by nurses just trying to get her to go back face down. It was too risky to put my in c-section at this point so we all just had to cross our fingers and pray...eventually, a little after 8 pm, I had to push. Maybe it was stress or exhaustion but I just started doing it without a word. One of the nurses looks over and says "ARE YOU PUSHING!?" I replied "I'm not sure...I think so?" And then she says "NO NO NO! WAIT WE GOTTA GET THE DOCTOR!!!" And I'm thinking "lady...there's no such thing as 'wait' right now..." But within a few minute my doctor was there claiming I was only 6cm, but stretching to 8 so I could go ahead and push. The reason I couldn't dilate fully was apparently because if you can't relax, you can't dilate. And being a first time mom with severe anxiety and no epidural...that didn't happen all the way. Fast forward we are both fine and healthy and she'll be two in 10 days!!!


Wednesday 30th of May 2018

I was unable to push because of a lip and was instructed by my nurses and doctors not to and by the time I had to push my baby out it took 3 hours because I couldn't feel the urge to push anymore. I spent so long fighting it that by the time I was allowed to I didn't know what to do. I'm definitely looking for a midwife next time and finding someone who won't out me through that again!


Thursday 26th of April 2018

I gave birth to my first baby 2 months ago. I was in early labour for three days. I did not call my midwife even though I knew I was in labour - I didn't want her to pressure me into going to the hospital for having "too long" of a labour. Eventually, on the third night, the contractions and cramps changed into a far more intense and overwhelming experience. I called my midwife and told her I'd been in labour for three days but because I was able to speak calmly she got the impression I could wait and told me to "check in" after another hour. After 45 mins I called her again and requested her presence. At the first cervix check, she said, "6cm... wow, you don't mess around!" Over the next few hours my dilations progressed consistently and my contractions became more painful. It felt like being constipated - I just wanted to push that lump out of me! I told the midwife I felt like I needed to push but, being at 8cm, she told me not to and suggested a hot bath because "relaxing might help the cervix dilate." But the bath just made me angry for some reason. I didn't want to relax, I wanted to push. She checked me again and I was 9cm. I said, "my body is pushing. I can't stop it. will it hurt the baby?" she said, "if your cervix gets swollen u might need a C-section. try to resist." "I cant resist," I said, "Its happening without me!!" "If you want to avoid the hospital I can open your cervix manually." she suggested. I agreed and the began trying to open my cervix wider with her fingers. "I really can't hold it back I'm pushing I cant stop it" I yelled. I prayed to God that my baby would just come out already. "Ok, you can push," the midwife replied. I only pushed for half an hour before my son arrived and began to cry without a slap or any help clearing his lungs. I often wonder if I could have avoided hours of pain and worry, if I had just trusted my body's urge. My midwife was obviously very hospital-minded in her idea of the Rule of Ten. And as much as I want appreciate that she "helped" in her own way, I feel like perhaps I subjected myself to unnecessary interference. Did I really need her to finger my cervix? Probably not. I have since read of many women who experienced cervical swelling but were able to birth safely despite the swelling. I regret that I gave her control of my sons birth instead of trusting my body. Next time, I will not try to stop my body when it starts to push "without me."

Melissa W.

Tuesday 16th of January 2018

I am so glad I ran across this post. I thought I was alone in the world, pushing out my babies before I had the urge to, or was quite fully dilated. I even did this with my first--although, I was probably 9.5 cm at that time. The nurse said there was just a lip/curtain of cervix remaining, and that if I wanted to try pushing, I could. I pushed four times (without ever feeling an urge to), and my daughter was out. First-time mom. My cervix did not swell as far as I'm aware.

With my second daughter, my nurse once again judged me to have a bit of cervix left in the way of baby's head and said that if I wanted to get out of the tub and move to the bed, she'd reach in and try to stretch it out of the way on the next contraction. However, she accidentally ruptured my waters during that cervical check, and the next contraction came before I could get out of the tub. I don't know if what I felt was the same "urge to push" that other women feel, but I was in so much pain that I felt like if I didn't push back against the pain, my body would tear in half, so I bore down just to fight the pain and my daughter popped out in one push. It caught us ALL by surprise, especially my husband, who caught her to keep her from slipping under water, since she wasn't actually born under the water.

Knowing how my previous two births went, I'm prepared to once again push before I'm fully dilated at my upcoming birth. I'm also going to give the L&D nurse a heads-up that things tend to move quickly right at the end, since this is apparently a trend.


Sunday 2nd of April 2017

I also start pushing once I get into active labor. I like to call it micro pushes not to where I'm trying to push the baby out but push the baby down to help dilate faster. I have labored this was two times now and will be doing it again in less than two weeks! I just listen to my body and it helps. The contractions aren't as intense when I'm micro pushing and it decreases my labor time dramatically. I'm looking forward to this next labor to see if this "trick" helps reduce my labor again even from the 5 hour one I had last time.