Women Who Don’t “Push” During Childbirth are 85 Percent Less Likely to Experience Severe Vaginal Tearing

October 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Hospital stops telling women to lie on their backs and “push” during childbirth, reduces instances of severe vaginal tearing from 7% to 1%

Nine in ten women suffer some form of vaginal tearing during childbirth. In severe cases, they are left to suffer from incontinence and lifelong nerve problems.

After a sharp rise in severe perineal tearing in England between 2013 and 2014, the Royal College of Midwives initiated a call to action.

With the support of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, they implemented a trial program at Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent.

By simply not pressuring women to lie on their backs and “push,” the hospital reduced the number of third and fourth-degree perineal tears from 7 percent to 1 percent, an 85 percent reduction.

Dot Smith, the hospital’s head of midwifery, blames the high number of tears on the misconception that women in labor need to “push, push and then push harder.”

“When we saw 22 cases of third-degree tears in a month, we said, ‘this is not good enough,’ she said.

Women in the program were encouraged to birth standing up, squatting or on their knees, which was the norm until the 1950s.

Midwives also encouraged them to breathe naturally through contractions instead of urging them to push.

Instead of pulling the babies out as soon as their heads emerged, the midwives let them come out at their own pace, while supporting their weight to reduce pressure on the perineum.

The program was so successful the results were published in the European Journal Of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and there are plans to implement it nationally.

The simple protocol has already reduced unintentional damage to the bodies of birthing women by 85 percent in some maternity wards.

In an article called To Push or Not to Push, founder of HypnoBirthing Mickey Mongan says trying to “push” a baby into the world is counterproductive:

“Forced pushing creates stress for the birthing mother, which is self defeating in that it closes the sphincters of the vagina ahead of the descending baby.”

Mongan introduced the concept of mother-led breathing, in contrast to staff-directed breathing and pushing over 25 years ago:

She says there is overwhelming evidence today that directed or forced pushing results in:

  • Mother fatigue
  • Increased morbidity for both mother and baby
  • Inefficient uterine surges or contractions
  • Increased risk of hypoxia
  • Fetal heart rate abnormalities
  • Damage to the pelvic floor muscles
  • Ruptures eye and facial blood vessels
  • Tearing of the perenium
  • Increase need for episiotomy