We’ve all seen it in the movies: The man in blue hospital scrubs holding his wife’s hand in the delivery room telling her to push. But does this really help labor along or just give the nervous dad-to-be something to do? In a study published in the January 2006 edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers found that women who were told to “push” during contractions didn’t birth much faster than women who just did what their bodies told them. Babies in the group that was coached to push made their appearances on average only 13minutes earlier than babies in the uncoached group, and no other differences or benefits were noted in the coached group. Could “push, push, push” soon be a passé phrase in the labor and delivery room? Is Coaching Necessary? Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas looked at 320 women who were giving birth for the first time. None had complicated pregnancies, none received an epidural and they were randomly assigned.
The 163 women in the “coached” group were told to push for 10 seconds during a contraction, while the 157 women in the “uncoached” group were told to “do what comes naturally.” “Aside from a 13-minute shorter second stage of labor, we found no other benefits in the coached group, including no difference in route of delivery (C-section, forceps, vaginal) or episiotomy/lacerations,” says Dr. Steven Bloom, professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. There were no differences in outcome for the newborns of the two groups either. In addition, an earlier study of this same group of women showed that three months postpartum, women in the coached group had smaller bladder capacity and a decreased “first urge to void” (the point at which they wanted to pass urine). Of course, this was only one study, and bladder function can return to normal over time.
It’s far too early to tell if coached pushing is associated with clinically significant injury to the pelvic floor, Dr. Bloom says. Modern Times Coached pushing is something that many moms, especially in the United States, are familiar with and have come to expect, says Deborah Lindemann, a registered nurse and professor of obstetrics and pediatrics at Life Chiropractic College West in California. But coaching during the second stage of labor – the point at which the cervix is fully dilated and the baby is ready to start moving through the birth canal – is a relatively recent concept. “This was not a factor, say, in the Middle Ages,” Lindemann says. “But back then, [humans] were so much more in tune with our bodies – we were out there working and walking.”
Even as recently as the 1940s and early 1950s, coached pushing wasn’t common, Lindemann says. In fact, women were often completely unconscious during the entire birth due to pain relief methods used at the time. Lindemann feels coached pushing came into its own around the early 1970s. “Epidurals were just becoming more common then, and with that type of anesthesia, you often have to do the coached pushing,” she says. Use of an epidural can make it hard for a woman to respond to her body’s urge to push.
Women who are told to simply respond to the needs of their body during birth push differently that women who are coached, Lindemann says. The pushes tend to be more controlled and shorter. In coached pushing deliveries she has seen, women were told to push as many as four times during a contraction, to start pushing before the contraction had reached its peak and to keep pushing even though the contraction was mostly over. “I don’t think a lot of people, even people in the medical field, know that there are options [besides coached pushing],” Lindemann says. Lindemann says the key thing is education. “It’s really on the expectant parent to do the research, find out about as much as they possibly can about the whole birth experience, then interview birth practitioners and find someone you have confidence in, and that you feel you have a good working relationship with,” she says. What Women Want Heather Cook is a mom of two who experienced coached pushing with her first birth and uncoached pushing with her second. Both births took place in a hospital. In her first, Cook, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, pushed for two hours.
In her second, she pushed for an hour and a half. “[During my first birth experience], I had a very wise nurse with me who helped me maintain my energy levels, did perineum compresses and generally supported me during the labor,” Cook says. “I did have coached pushing for part of it because I was physically very tired and needed the encouragement. I’m a structured kind of person and I really hung on to that during labor.” Cook’s second experience was with a midwife. During her second stage, she was told only to do what her body wanted. “Amazingly, I felt much more in control,” Cook says. It wasn’t that I felt out of control the first time, but this time I felt as thought everyone in the room had confidence in my ability and so I had confidence in my ability.” The verdict is still out on coached pushing. Overall, opinions among moms seem to be similar to Cook’s. “Both times I felt very satisfied with the experience,” Cook says. “My second birth I felt even more competent and able – it had been all me – no coaching, just encouragement and support.”
Date Published: 2010, July
We’ve all known that one of the responsibilities of nurses in Delivery Room is to support the mother (client) not only physical but also in emotional. To show our support, we are trying to coach them the proper way of pushing. But according to this article/study that coaching them while in labor doesn’t help labor progress. Well in fact, this process is already adopted by our DOH.
For me, coaching is not really a bad idea. Yes, it is already proven that coaching doesn’t help labor progress in physical and some how in emotion but still there is no study saying that coaching has a bad effect to the client. That is why for me coaching still help some how to our client. But of course we also need to do our other task to make our patient more comfortable and feel that the mother and the new baby are safe on our hand… 😉