You know how when you watch movies, doctors will instruct a woman when to push while delivering her baby? Did you know that “pushing” usually isn’t even necessary during natural labor and birth? Instructed pushing can actually be harmful. Mother should be following her instincts, solely, instead of relying on others to tell her when and what to do.
When mother is left to labor undisturbed, it’s possible she may experience what is called the Fetal Ejection Reflex. This is when the body expels the baby with no real effort from the birthing mother. Her body simply does it on its own, naturally. It’s like a sneeze! Once it’s coming on, you can’t stop it! But if you don’t experience it, you can’t force it, as Dr. Michael Odent says.
FER happens in the transition stage. High levels of adrenaline and norepinephrine trigger the Fetal Ejection Reflex (FER). These adrenaline and oxytocin surges create strong, rapid waves, and these powerful waves (otherwise known as contractions) move the baby from the uterus and into the birth canal. The pressure from baby in the vagina triggers the uncontrollable expulsion of the baby. The nerves in the pelvis are stimulated and baby descends through the birth canal. This automatic bodily function sends messages to the brain to release more oxytocin, resulting in two or three strong contractions. The baby is then born quickly and easily without voluntary pushing from the mother.
When a large amount of adrenaline enters the mother’s bloodstream, it gets her out of the exhaustion state she may have been in previously, preparing her for baby’s arrival. This makes her alert and prepared to catch and protect her young.
FER can come on suddenly. Prior to FER kicking in, many will experience sudden thirst, dilated pupils, and a period of panic or fear. This is normal and no reason to be concerned!
What to Expect from FER
The birthing mother may show a sense of fear. She may say she can’t do it, she does not have any control, or may be frightened. This is when she should be assured that what she is experiencing is normal and that she is about to meet her baby! She should NOT be checked for dilation. She should simply follow her body’s lead and allow baby to exit naturally! Her body will begin to “push” on it’s own.
Sometimes the woman may yelp, screech, or scream. It is an overwhelming moment where mom isn’t in control and the sensations themselves are overwhelming in the moment while your body is in overdrive. I know I definitely screeched the last 2 contractions, when I experienced FER! I had no control and the last 4-5 contractions were back to back, with no break. It’s overwhelming, so her noises are rightfully so!
If a provider steps in and checks for dilation or tries to interfere, it can interrupt the FER process. Women that feel delivering in a hospital is the safest place to be should also be aware of the impact their birthing environment has on their desired natural birth experience. FER rarely happens in a hospital with bright lights, intervention and so forth.
FER can happen when:
- Mother has a sense of danger in the last stage of labor.
- Spontaneously when the birthing mother is undisturbed and at peace in her own space and feels safe and supported, not being interrupted by commotion or bright lights.
- It can, but rarely, happen in a hospital setting. This is because women are interrupted quite often with procedures and unnecessary interventions. If the mother is threatened with intervention, this could make her feel a sense of danger. In this scenario, if the woman is in the last stage of labor, the body will eject baby instead of stalling labor.
Labor stalling is what usually happens when a woman is in labor and is uncomfortable, feels threatened, is being bothered, in bright lights, feels anxious or senses danger. Labor stalls to protect baby from the environment mother is currently in. This is where unnecessary interventions come into play and mess up the whole natural birth flow. All because mom was in a place she couldn’t be completely relaxed and get into her birth zone.
That’s a different topic for a different day. Gahhh, I could talk about unnecessary interventions and the importance of birth environments for days! Any who, that’s FER and how it all works!
Allow your baby to arrive earth side naturally. No coached pushing, no intervention, just you and baby working together to bring babe earth side! Get yourself a doula if you would like to increase your chances of a natural birth and experiencing FER. You won’t regret it!
Have you experienced FER? Please share your experience!!