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The one dangerous thing women do during childbirth - which midwives want to stop

Mirror logo Mirror 30/04/2017 Zahra Mulroy
Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

Cast your mind back to every film or TV programme you've seen where a woman is in the throes of labour.

There's lots of screaming and yelling. Brows are mopped. Usually there's a "hapless" male partner on hand who gets a bed pan lobbed at them.

There's also plenty of encouraging calls to "push."

The midwife says it, the partner says it, pretty much whoever happens to be in the room issues this command to the mum-to-be.

That we need to push when giving birth is the sort of thing we latch on to, even when young and getting our heads around the concept of childbirth.

A new midwife-led programme wants to banish this preconception, however, because it's actually quite dangerous.

Staff at Medway Foundation Trust are working to encourage women to slow down during labour and to also be open to new positions, the Independent reports.

Their motivation is based on some alarming figures.

Nine in ten women suffer some form of tearing during childbirth which can, in the more serious cases lead to incontinence and lifelong nerve problems.

Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

Dot Smith, head of midwifery at Medway Foundation says it's precisely this impression we need to push which is to blame.

"When we saw 22 cases of third-degree tears in a month, we said, "This is not good enough,'" she explained.

Since being implemented, the programme has seen some positive results, with the number of cases of traumatic tearing decreasing from seven per cent to just one per cent of patients.

It also successfully cut unintentional damage caused to the body during delivery by 85 per cent in some maternity wards.

The new guidelines also encourage women to adopt different positions during delivery, such as giving birth on their knees or standing up as well as teaching mums-to-be to breathe through contractions in place of pushing.

In addition to adapting how women give birth, the programme also discourages midwives from pulling the baby out. Instead, they are being guided to support the baby's weight as it emerges to reduce pressure on the perineum.

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