Termed "bearing down," the last stage of labor includes pushing the baby through the birth canal in a way that many mothers equate to having a bowel movement, according to BabyCenter. Once the cervix is fully dilated to 10 centimeters, a woman is told to push in a downward motion as much as possible with each contraction to begin moving the baby out of the uterus.
When having a natural childbirth, many mothers feel the need to push on their own once dilated, while a mother who has had an epidural may feel no urge to push, according to BabyCenter. While there is no one right way to push, a woman uses her natural instinct to push downward once labor is in this stage. Depending on the type of delivery, her legs may be used as leverage during pushing to provide resistance and push against while she is bearing down during a contraction.
Pushing can take place both during and between contractions, according to BabyCenter. When a woman has an epidural, she is often coached through the pushing process by a midwife or doctor. When she is birthing naturally, this process is largely self-led, as the need to push is greater and more recognizable once the baby's head is engaged in the pelvis.