Breathing out and pushing during labour

Each birth is different and your experience of giving birth will be different to someone else's. Some women will 'go with' their bodies and push when they feel the urge.

If you have an epidural, you may need extra support and guidance from your midwife on pushing. This is known as 'coached pushing'.

Once your cervix is dilated, you may feel the urge to push. Your midwife will guide you on when to breathe out and push.

You may be asked to work with your body at the start of a contraction. You may have had previous practice of these breathing exercises.

You may be asked to:

  1. Take a deep breath in.
  2. When you breathe out, push down, into your bottom, as if you were trying to have a large bowel movement (poo).
  3. Take a breath when you need to and push again.
  4. Rest between contractions - have a drink and prepare for the next urge.
  5. Be guided your midwife - they may suggest when to stop pushing.

During a water birth

If you choose to have a water birth, there will be no coached pushing. You will go with your own urges.

Your midwife will constantly be looking for signs of the second stage of labour. They will use an underwater torch and mirror to observe your perineum and for signs of the baby’s head being born.

You will be guided when to take some deep breaths instead of ‘bearing down’. Although it is sometimes difficult to stay calm at this stage of birth, it is essential to listen to your midwife.

Page last reviewed: 4 December 2018
Next review due: 4 December 2021