When I was in college there was a popular song called "Push It". The lyrics went something like, "Push it, push it real good" and I used to sing this with my roommates and joke about giving birth to my babies with this song on in the background. Now that I have pushed three children out myself and have witnessed hundreds of women push their babies out of their bodies I have a much different perspective on what it takes to push and "push it real good" to bring our babies into this world.
First of all, for many women, pushing is a very scary feeling. They begin to feel 'pushy' during a few contractions and then put their muscles in 'lock down' until they feel like they can be in control again. It is a time where your mind is telling your body that you don't want to do this and that you just can't possibly do this and then comes an emotional breakdown. Most women have to really go inside themselves and find that powerful, birthing woman energy and bring it all out in order to wrap their minds around this overwhelming feeling they are having. It is a time where you have to push against your own skin and make yourself feel the burning ring of fire in your perineum and continue pushing past it. It is absolutely a necessary part of giving birth but a very challenging part, nonetheless. When the baby's head begins to crown it feels as though your body will literally break in two. All you can think about is self preservation and how long until this whole thing is over???! But, just as soon as you are thinking all of this and feeling that stretching and opening and the intensity of the moment, your baby's head is born and usually the shoulders and body follow immediately and the pain is gone...and you are holding this baby you have been waiting to meet for all of these months!
There is nothing like the ecstasy in the moments after giving birth! Nothing compares to this natural high and sense of accomplishment and empowerment! Your body feels like a train ran right through the middle of it but you survived and have a deeper soul because of it. You walked through the valley of human birth experience and came out triumphant on the other side! You now have a view many women today are giving away so carelessly. They are trading in their pushing experiences for one where they feel none of the sensations or their baby's head as it emerges from them. I believe they are selling themselves short of what could be one of the most spiritual, undeniably important and sacred times in their lives. This is something men will never understand and are not given the chance to experience, and therefore, will always see child birth as something they need to save women from; not give to them.
As a midwife I watch women go through this pushing phase and I always am overwhelmed by how it brings women to their knees and takes them to a point where they feel they cannot do it anymore. And then almost miraculously, you see the woman's resolve to get this baby out and next thing you know she has pushed successfully and there is the wonderful result right on her chest! Pushing is intense, a deep learning experience, an extreme vulnerability in our human experience and a chance to deepen ourselves as women and listen to our bodies and trust that we CAN do it!! It is something we can fear and avoid or something we can accept and acknowledge its power and then just go for it! Just remember: when you are pushing you are so close to holding your baby in your arms! Anything is worth that moment so keep pushing and "push it real good"!