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Annette says:

‘You’re right Wintergreen, that not being able to use the pool for the birth “threw me” and that along with the transition, I just gave up!! I didn’t realize all this until you wrote to me, that this really was the turning point when everything became unbearable. Next time …I also agree with you, that not allowing a woman to push when she wants to could interfere with her labour. In any case, for me it made me clench all my muscles in that area, I’m sure of it. I must say, that I’m wondering with all the sensations in that area, it is possible to localize the minnie mouse muscles during this part of labour?? I’m not sure I could have.’</blockquote

Wintergreen responds:

‘Of course, being told ‘don’t push’ requires a woman to tense up. this isn’t rocket science. I certainly understand the frustration from women who pushed for hours without progression but these women rarely (when they talked more) actually felt like pushing all the time.

Once a birth provider decides a woman should push then they are eagerly encouraged to. What it seems to me from listening to many thousands of Birth Stories and watching birth videos and attending many hundreds of birth … is that if a woman feels like pushing then she should explore that sensation in a conscious manner … one contraction at a time. Very shortly she will become aware if her baby is moving down or not. Presently the childbirth message is either: ‘push, push, push’ or ‘wait until you feel like doing so’. This issue is incredibly complex because:

  • Almost no one is preparing their baby’s birth canal
  • Often women are in positions that compromise the baby’s ability to come down, through and out
  • Neither birth providers or women are really reading contractions as being ‘effective’ or not. (Birthing Better online birthing classes has all the skills about the 5 Phases of Contractions and the Bell-shaped Curve of contractions)

This early ‘pushing’ is opening the soft tissue at the very top of her vagina. If a baby moves quickly down then the woman has a massive urge to push that she can’t control.

If a woman feels the baby is not moving down then most get restless and dissatisfied. It’s important to work through how each contraction is opening her and how to get the residual tension released. The concept of ‘let’s change position’ is usually encouraged BUT without knowing exactly what positions actually open that woman. Rather positions are chosen because they are the trendy ones of the day. This does nothing but confuses the baby.

Every time a woman changes her position, her baby has to orient to that new position. It takes 3 contractions to learn whether that contraction created a bell-shaped contraction or a plateau shaped one.

The purpose of having skills is to work with our baby and pay attention through our contractions what message our baby is giving us. This is discovered by asking questions: ‘Is this the best position for the baby?’ or ‘Do you feel as open as you need to be?’ Pink Kit (now known as Birthing Better Childbirth Preparation Online Course) women can answer these questions often. When they can’t and then the significant other who also knows the skills can slowly work with learning to recognize a change. This sometimes takes time if the woman still has lots of internal tension, hasn’t really discovered what positions keep her open and hasn’t really done enough of the internal work.

It’s not too difficult to know your own body but much more difficult to know lots of bodies in your role as a midwife. This is another reason women who work as midwives should not bother to get involved too much with Birthing Better skills as part of their ‘tool kit of skills’. Rather midwives should explore how the Birthing Better skills feel in their own body and have the women and men teach them what they have discovered about their own bodies. Then women can help guide everyone to help them etc.’

Common Knowledge Trust houses Birthing Better skills