how long does it take to push a baby out

As a new mom-to-be, you are excited as well as nervous to meet your baby so, you have lots of questions about labor and delivery such as how long does it take to push a baby out?

Pushing the baby out is the second stage of childbirth. This stage starts when your cervix is completed dilated (open to 10cm) and you’ll be encouraged to start pushing.  

You are almost at the finish line but getting there is going to take a bit of pushing. So, how long does it take to push a baby out? Keep reading to find out the answer to this question as well as answers to other questions you may have to ease your worries.

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What you will feel when it is time to push

Your contractions should be more regular than the contractions in transitional or advanced labor during this stage. They’re still approximately 60 – 90 seconds each but are further apart (usually 2-5 minutes) and possibly less intense, although sometimes they are more intense.

You should now notice a well-defined rest period between your contractions, although you may still have trouble recognizing the starting of each contraction.

This is common in this stage though you will definitely feel a lot less or may feel nothing at all (if you’ve had an epidural).

how long does it take to push a baby out

When it is time to push, you’ll feel:

  • Pain with the contractions (the pain may not be much)
  • An overwhelming urge to push but if you’ve had an epidural, you may not feel it.
  •  Tremendous rectal pressure (ditto)
  • An increase in bloody show
  • A burst of renewed energy or fatigue
  • A tingling, stretching, burning, or stinging sensation at the vagina as the head of your baby emerges.
  • Very visible contractions with your uterus rising noticeably with each.
  • A slippery wet feeling as your baby emerges.

How Long Does it Take to Push a Baby Out?

The time it will take to push a baby out depends due to certain factors but according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, it can take up to 2-3 hours or more to push a baby out especially if it’s your first time. If you’ve had epidurals, you’ll be perfectly normal during this time.

If you start feeling tired, you can take a break as long as the baby is okay. Women with epidurals are sometimes encouraged to “labor down” – meaning instead of actively pushing, they let the uterus and contractions do some of the work for them while they rest.

This may be tougher on moms who don’t have epidurals because they are in pain and “laboring down” may extend the amount of time they are in pain.

What are the Best Births Positions?

how long does it take to push a baby out

Birth positions can make a crucial difference in labor. Getting into an upright birth position could help make your second stage shorter and more comfortable. Upright positions give gravity and movement a chance to help your baby out.

You might not need forceps, ventouse, or an episiotomy if you stay upright and keep moving, though you might lose a bit more blood.

Here are some examples of upright positions:

  • Kneeling
  • Standing
  • Squatting (either independently or using a hammock, bar, or rope to dangle from)
  • Leaning over a birthing ball
  • Using birthing stool

During this second stage, you might get some back pain. So, a position like the birthing ball that gets you on all fours, can help with that too. If the midwife or your birth partner offers physical support or positive updates about your baby’s progress, that will help too.

Who can be my birth partner?

how long does it take to push a baby out

You can decide who you would like to be with you during labor and delivery but you will need to consider the guidelines of your hospital or birthing center.

Most hospitals and even birthing centers encourage women to have a support person and this support person should be focused on helping you by guiding you through relaxation and comfort techniques during labor.

Your birth partner should also know how you feel about the use of medications and invasive procedures, so whatever you want can be communicated even if you are too preoccupied to speak for yourself.

During childbirth, you may want your birth partner to support and encourage you, sponge your forehead, or support your legs or shoulders.

During the time you will be in the hospital or birth center, a nurse will be your main caretaker and your doctor or midwife usually arrives when you go into active labor.

What if the baby doesn’t come out even though I’m pushing hard?

At times, the baby needs some help in getting out. Although you may be pushing with all of your strength, your energy may have waned and due to fatigue, your pushing may not be strong enough to deliver the baby. Also, the baby may need to be rotated to a better position in order to come out.

After about 2-3 hours of good pushing, your doctor or nurse may opt to guide the baby out with an instrument while you continue to push.

The instruments that may be used in a situation like this are the forceps and the vacuum extractor. These instruments should not be used unless the baby can be seen and reached easily. Your doctor or midwife will not “pull” the baby out instead, the baby will be guided while you continue to push.

Will I need an Episiotomy?

An episiotomy is a surgical cut made at the base of the vagina to make the opening for the baby larger. In the past years, doctors believed that every woman needed an episiotomy to deliver a baby.

According to research, the national episiotomy rate for first mothers is less than 13%. However, about 70% of new moms experience a natural tear.

Today, episiotomies are performed only in certain cases like:

  • If after pushing for a long time, there’s no progress in stretching or toward delivery
  • When the baby is having troubles and needs help getting out
  • When there’s tearing of the tissues upward into sensitive areas like the urethra and clitoris

No one can determine whether or not you will need an episiotomy but there are some things you can do to help decrease the chances that you’ll need an episiotomy. However, there’re certain factors you can’t control like your baby’s size.

If you eat a well-balanced diet and sometimes stretch the vaginal area during the four weeks before your due date, it can help lower your chances of needing an episiotomy. Also, your doctor or midwife may apply warm compresses to your vaginal opening or warm mineral oil, which can soften your skin and help your baby come out easily.


Certainly, the question “how long does it take to push a baby out” as well as other questions you may want to ask have been answered here.

If you have any question, kindly drop it in the comment section below, and we will be glad to answer.  

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