In our practise we have a lot of women asking for a tip for pushing during birth. Now, there isn’t one tip that reigns supreme, but we do recommend that women learn how to relax their pelvic floor while pushing.
Some people will roll their eyes and say that there are so many hormones that help out with birth, that of course the pelvic floor is relaxed. But we have some points we’d like you to consider.
- Some women do not realize that the pelvic floor can relax. We spend so much time talking about strengthening and kegels that relaxation gets missed. It is an important skill to learn for general pelvic health, but we find it very useful for vaginal deliveries as well. (Don’t know about the pelvic floor? Click here for more info).
- Some women have a pushing strategy that goes like this “I’m just going to push really hard and squeeze everything!”. Sometimes that means that they squeeze the pelvic floor a little bit too. Which is not what we want when we are trying to push something out. When you contract your abdominals to initiate a push, you should also keep the pelvic floor relaxed – similar to when you empty your bowels.
- We under estimate how many women are really afraid of having a bowel movement while pushing. They try to squeeze around he back half of their pelvic floor while trying to push out a baby. Vaginal delivery does feel like a bowel movement for a lot of women, and it can cause a bowel movement. However, most delivery nurses are very, very good at being discreet about this. They will allow you to stay covered as long as possible, and they will change out padding very regularly. They have got your back.
So How Do I Relax My Pelvic Floor?
If our tip for pushing during birth is pelvic floor relaxation, how the heck do you do it?!
When we teach a kegel (a contraction or squeeze of the pelvic floor) we instruct to squeeze AND lift the front AND back. Well, it’s the opposite for relaxation. You should feel a relaxation or a softening in the front AND back. Yes – we mean reduce the tension around your rectum.
In fact, if you are well relaxed, you should be able to feel some movement in your pelvic floor when you take a big belly breath. That’s right. Take your finger tips, place them to the inside of your sit-bones, and take a deep breath in. Can you feel a little it of ‘give’ when you inhale? Great – you are probably relaxing your pelvic floor.
Still unsure? Send us a message or check in with your local pelvic floor physiotherapist.
We hope our tip for pushing during birth is as useful for you as it has been for our patients!
Katie & Eryn