What is Mother Led Pushing? How Will I Know What to Do?

Wondering exactly what ‘mother led’ pushing is?

Is it painful?

How will I know if I’m doing it right?

Did you know your body does most of the work for you and that sensation for most mom isn’t painful – it’s irresistible!  Midwife Carla Harley likens it to the sensation of throwing up – except your body starts to ‘throw down’.

Here’s what some of our GentleBirth Moms have to say about their experience of pushing in labor.

The involuntary push reflex is amazing. Comparing it to throwing up is appropriate; it’s like this intense sensation of pressure in your pelvic floor. I didn’t have to push at all until he was crowning; those last few pushes were the hardest part, and then he was here.

I experienced similar 10 days ago  birthing my second son in water. I didn’t push… not much anyway…my energy was zapped by the time he was on his way. He took his time coming out and my body did its thing. Such a gentle entrance to the world. Like you my perineum was very thankful! After a previous episiotomy I was expecting to at least tear but I was fine!

Throwing down’ is one of the best description I think.. when your body & baby just do what they need to. Don’t think I’ll ever forget those fierce sensations & instinctual noises from deep within.  Because of the speed and intensity my mind couldn’t jump ahead – it was very much take it minute by minute, a little bit like an out of body experience in a way. Our bodies are so powerful.

It was so wonderful to experience this expulsion on my 3rd (1st GB baby ) being in the zone and your body takes over, things change after you hit your peak and you catch a break between surges… Tracy’s voice in my ear. Feeling her head, everyone in the room watching a baby come out rather than being pushed along as I was with the other two getting to hold MY slippy squish as soon as she came out thinking she was a boy from the little feel that I had, it must have been her cord, when I announced she was a boy until a few minutes later … oh look she’s a girl! So happy I got to do it and would definitely make me want to go again for a fourth if only to experience that  I could have skipped down the halls after she was born.

Yes! This exactly! On my third, I remember looking up during the last intense surges wondering why no one was near me, the midwives were standing back. And seeing my questioning look, they just said “were letting your body do its thing”! And that it did, my 2nd son was born minutes later!

I had this on my second, it was the most empowering experience… I walked out of the labor ward an hour later high fiving the midwives telling them I would be back.

My body 100% threw down my second baby. After a very manageable labor, my body literally began to push for me – I had no control over it and it was amazingly powerful and empowering. I remember saying to my husband ‘this is bigger than me’ at the time and I think that once I accepted that, I was able to go with it and know that my body knew exactly what to do. Despite Juno arriving in the passenger seat of our car, it was a most amazing and powerful experience.

My favorite part, trusting my body and feeling my little girls head inch forward and back. The 2nd stage lasted about 2hrs for me with, at the most, 8 surges, from what I can remember. She came out slowly and gently under the watchful eye of a quiet midwife and my boyfriend with not a single tear. Oh I get goosebumps thinking about it!

So powerful. I knew straight away that baby was coming. 2 contractions and she was out straight into my arms. Midwife didn’t believe me!

Happened to me with an epidural. I could still feel pressure but waited until I was absolutely sure. Told the ob and baby was right there! Just came on out.


On my first it was like throwing up except my body was throwing down. The power of it was surreal! On my second, I was so relieved when I felt that first involuntary heave that no longer pushed against cervix as I knew the hard part was over and all I had to do now was relax as much as possible and keep calm through crowning! On my third I felt the first pushy sensations and was trying to tell the midwife that the baby wasn’t coming down the birth canal yet when whoosh….another surge and it was as though my cervix sprang open and the baby bombed down to the exit. It was a shock as the others took their time coming down!

The push sensation comes hand in hand with those last intense surges , it’s like one beautiful intermingled, intense sensation that you just go along with your body’s natural instruction. My third GentleBirth was by far my easiest. My body did its thing beautifully! It is honestly the most empowering feeling I’ve ever experienced!

I would do it all again for the experience for sure. Just a pity they’re such hard work when the get older 🙂

Try the Imagery for Pushing session and the Learning How to Push session in the GentleBirth App for more information on mother led pushing.

Feeling better about pushing now?  You’ve got this!

Author – Tracy Donegan, Founder Fearless Birth

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