How willI know when to push?

One of the questions that often comes up in my MummyNatal classes is how will I know when to push?


Do I need a doctor to tell me that I’m fully dilated and then I can push? What happens if I just don’t push? How will I know how to push?


Lets set the scene..


You are labouring quite happily. Working your way through contractions and almost being in a zen state during the rests between contractions. Your Oxytocin is flowing and you are feeling, calm, confident and in control.


A huge surge of adrenaline then floods your bloodstream and it wakes you up out of  your zen state. Your contractions intensify and become closer together. The big shift in hormones has left you feeling overwhelmed and a little anxious. The zen like feeling has gone. You’ve woken up and you are ready to meet your baby. You may shout that you want to go home, that you aren’t doing it and that you want some pain relief. Your jaw trembles, your mouth is dry and you feel nauseous.


Your midwife reassures you that everything is ok and you are entering a stage of labour called transition.


Your contractions continue to intensity and you start to feel a pressure in your bottom. The pressure of baby stimulates something called the Ferguson reflex. You have an uncontrollable urge to bear down. You breathe, relax and open your pelvis as your baby descends through the birth canal.The sensation is involuntary and your body is birthing your baby.


It’s happening, it’s nearly time to meet your baby.


A strong urge to bare down and your baby’s head starts to be born. Your midwife guides you by telling you to gently breathe your baby’s head out. Giving everything time to slowly stretch. Your baby’s head is born. Another contraction and a strong urge to push and you birth your baby’s body.



Women do not always experience the urge to bear down to birth their babies. If this happens your midwife or care provider will gently guide and encourage your pushing. Not all women will experience transition. The above is just one example and is not representative of every birth.