Friday, August 31, 2007

PushedBirth website

This is a recent press release from Jennifer Block, author of Pushed.


August 30, 2007, New York — Just in time for Labor Day, offers a source of candid, uncensored, must-know healthcare information not just for women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming so, but for anyone who's interested in how American women are giving birth today.

The U.S. may be known for its advancements in medical technology, but according to a 2006 survey, just 2% of pregnant women receive optimal care when they go to have the baby. Instead, most women have what author Jennifer Block calls a “pushed birth”: they are induced into labor or sped up with artificial hormones, labor and deliver lying flat on their backs, or, in nearly one-third of cases, give birth by major abdominal surgery.

Block, author of Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care (Da Capo, 2007), launched as a resource for women who, she says, “aren’t being told what to really expect when they get to the hospital. If they’re like most women, they’ll be rushed through labor, confined to a bed, and more often than necessary, leave recovering from surgery or preventable injury. According to research, this treatment is not only unnecessary, but a detriment to mothers’ and babies’ health and well-being.”

Recent news that the U.S.’s maternal death rate rose for the first time in decades underscores the need for better maternity care practices. Says Block, “Women can and should seek out more optimal care.” was created to help women do just that. The site answers such questions as, “What’s a ‘Pushed Birth’?” “How can I avoid it?” and “Why not just schedule it?” is a must-read for a better birth. Best of all, it’s a quick read. With so many pregnancy guides beckoning at the bookstore, provides an eye-opener in minutes. After viewers click through six content pages, they can follow links to other resources or scroll through the blog, which is updated daily with news, expert tips, and birth stories.

At, women will learn that...

• Scheduling labor can put a baby at risk
• Epidural anesthesia can put a vagina at risk
• Electronic fetal monitors can do more harm than good
• Induced labor is more painful than normal labor
• Women should not be birthing flat on their backs


  1. Anyone else having trouble with the Pushed Birth link???

  2., 2:37 AM

    I just shared this link with my moms group...I appreciate the "mainstreamness" of her information. Now here's to somebody actually paying attention...

  3. Have any of you actually given birth flat on your backs? Or been asked to? I have not with any of my 3 hospital births (2002 and more recent). It wasn't suggested (by my nurses, doctors or midwife), or recommended/presented as normal in my "mainstream" labor/delivery class that I took at the hospital. I'm wondering where this is still the case-- is it a certain type of hospital or part of the country? Or by flat on their backs do they really mean in a bed in some position or other?

  4. I think by "flat on your back" she means lying down with feet supported in foot rests or stirrups. Elevating the back and shoulders, as is often done now, does nothing to improve the mechanics of birthing. Actually, the semi-sitting position often adopted in today's hospital beds--like the hospital epidural births I've been to--is physiologically worse than the true flat on back with legs in stirrups, because it places much more weight on the sacrum and makes less room for the baby. This would be something good to ask Jennifer Block to clarify, though.

  5. Thanks for clarifying, and helpful too. So, from your research which laboring position best open the pelvis to allow baby through?

    Thanks, Maryanne

  6. Good birth positions...first off, the most important caveat is that the mother spontaneously choose all of her laboring and birthing positions.

    Positions that enhance the birth process, open the pelvis, are generally upright and leaning forward. Here is a short list of examples:
    - kneeling
    - hands & knees (could also be draped over a birth ball or over the headboard or over the edge of a birth pool)
    - standing & leaning over a counter or sink (when I was on land, this is how I labored during a contraction)
    - standing squat (often this is done with someone supporting the woman's weight from behind. It looks like she's sitting in mid-air).
    - squatting (a deep squat is most useful late in the pushing stage, because it hinges the pelvic outlet open, while closing the pelvic inlet somewhat.)
    - sitting (such as on a toilet)
    - hands & knees with bum high in the air and head near the ground (very useful for malpositions, as it helps disengage the baby's head so it can wiggle around and get into a better position)

    Some women choose to birth side-lying, especially if they are exhausted. This is where you lie on your side and lift your top leg up, or you can keep both legs entirely together as long as your legs & knees are bent (bent as if you are sitting on a chair, but just tipped over sideways).

    Asymmetrical positions (lunges, stair climbing, etc) are also great for encouraging malpositioned heads to even out. Especially if you go from one side to another every few contractions.

    I pushed out Zari's head while sitting on the toilet (aka the ceramic birth stool!) and then I knelt down on the floor in front of the toilet, on one knee and with the other foot flat on the floor. It was super easy to catch her as she came out, and her body was quite low to the ground so there was no worry about dropping her.

    Anything that places pressure on the sacrum (the standard hospital position of sitting semi-reclined with legs up on footrests or stirrups) is terrible, physiologically, because it really reduces the pelvic opening and also exaggerates the angle that the baby has to navigate through. Upright and leaning forward positions, on the other hand, shorten the distance and smooth out the angle the baby has to travel through. When the sacrum has no weight on it, it is also free to swing out of the way (since it is not fused to the rest of the pelvis, but is attached with ligaments that can stretch).

    I've been looking for some good online illustrations of various labor & birth positions, but so far haven't found a good site that overviews them all.

  7. Rixa--

    That makes a lot of sense. With our 3rd, labor happened really quickly and I was doing really well when at home in our shower leaning forward against the wall. I didn't intend to have baby at home (and didn't) but sitting in the car was torture (luckily only a 5 min. ride) and I was in transition (and then at the hospital, I was hugely uncomfortable in the bed). This gives me some good things to talk over with my midwives next time, though I'm on a baby sabbatical for now :)

    Thanks, Maryanne


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