Fetal Ejection Reflex

Meme by Christine Murray  

The fetal ejection reflex is real -- and it is amazing! Gloria Lemay writes in her excellent article, Pushing for First Time Moms:

Dr. Michel Odent [repeats] over and over, "Zee most important thing is: do NOT disturb zee birthing woman." We think we know what this means. The more births I attend, the more I realize how much I disturb the birthing woman. Disturbing often comes disguised in the form of "helping." Asking the mother questions, constant verbal coaching, side conversations in the room, clicking cameras—there are so many ways to draw the mother from her ancient brain trance (necessary for a smooth expulsion of the baby) into the present-time world (using the neocortex which interferes with smooth birth). This must be avoided. [...] Recognizing ways in which we can support the mother to enter that deep trance brain wave state that leads to smooth birth is imperative. I find it very helpful to have new language and concepts for explaining the process to practitioners. Dr. Odent has taught me to wait for the "fetus ejection reflex." This is a reflex like a sneeze. Once it is there you can't stop it, but if you don't have it, you can't force it. While waiting for the "fetus ejection reflex," I imagine the mother dilating to "eleven centimeters." This concept reminds me there may be dilation out of the reach of gloved fingers that we don't know about, but that some women have to do in order to begin the ejection of the baby. I also find it valuable to view birth as an "elimination process" like other elimination processes-coughing, pooping, peeing, crying and sweating. All are valuable (like giving birth is) for maintaining the health of the body. They all require removing the thinking mind and changing one's "state." My friend Leilah is fond of saying, "Birth is a no brainer." After all "elimination processes" are finished, we feel a lot better until the next time. Each individual is competent to handle her bodily elimination functions without a lot of input from others. Birth complications, especially in the first-time mother, are often the result of helpful tampering with something that simply needs time and privacy to unfold as intended.

The fetal ejection reflex is one that happens for most birthing women -- when they are fully safe, supported, and allowed to birth in peace. This, unfortunately, rarely happens in today's modern, North American birth world -- and is especially hard to come by in induction/pitocin-filled labor and delivery rooms. However, this primal state of birth still exists, and is waiting for us, as human mammals, to return to it: to make birth better, for babies and for mothers.

Related reading:

Pushing for First Time Moms: https://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/pushing.asp

Do not disturb: The importance of privacy in labor: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595201

What is the Fetal Ejection Reflex? http://www.spiritualbirth.net/what-is-the-fetus-ejection-reflex

Optimal Use of Language for Creating Birth Outcomes: http://wisewomanwayofbirth.com/optimal-use-of-language-for-creating-birth-outcomes

Birth from the baby's perspective: https://midwifethinking.com/2010/08/07/birth-from-the-babys-perspective

Excellent birth books: http://astore.amazon.com/peacefparent-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=3

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I gave birth to by boy a couple weeks ago and believe I experienced the FER. Please help me understand what happened to me! My first contraction was at 9:30pm lasting more than 1 minute and I could barely think through it! Contractions were 3 minutes apart right away. I arrived at the Birth Centre at 00:30am and my midwife said I was 5cm dilated. I immediately felt it! My body startled me by pushing without my consent, totally involuntary. I looked at her and said "I'm pushing and I have no control over it". She instructed me "not to push" because "it wasn't time yet". She said I would tear and my cervix would become swollen and bleed more if I pushed too soon! It was the most bizarre and hard thing to do in my life... I was fighting against my body, trying to hold my baby in and slow down the pushes until I reached 10cm. It was hard and felt impossible! My body pushing and me fighting against it. It wasn't just an urge to push like we hear so may times. I WAS pushing involuntarily. Please help me understand! Could I have experienced FER? If so, would I have had a bad tear, have a swollen cervix or bleed more if I had just relaxed and let my body push even with a 5cm dilation? By the way I had a small tear on the side of my vaginal labia and did not need stitches. I forgot to mention that my baby boy was born at 3:03am. 5 and a half hours after the first contraction. And I feel like my labor would have been shorter if no interference had happened.



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