For Dads, For Mums

Fetal Ejection Reflex: The reason why pushing isn’t necessary after all.

Fetal Ejection Reflex

The human body is made for giving birth just like other mammals. The process is just like a sneeze, once you have it you can’t stop it and if you don’t, you can’t force it. Birth is like an elimination process just like other elimination processes of the body like peeing, pooping, sneezing etc. which comes on its own and when it reaches the final stage you don’t have to put an effort at all.

Nowadays, women are constantly monitored and disturbed by doctors, midwives, nurses etc. who add in their support, medical supervisions and thus interfere with not only the women’s privacy but also their body’s natural way to react to the childbirth. Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for contractions (controlling the timing and intensity). When you interfere with the natural birth process, you interfere with the internal imprints of oxytocin itself.

What is Fetal Ejection Reflex?

The term ‘fetal ejection reflex’ was first used in the 1960s when Niles Newton was researching the effect of environment on the birth of mice. Her research showed the response of mice to fear and stress in their environment.

Extremely high levels of adrenaline during late labour can trigger the fetal ejection reflex. This surge triggers strong, rapid contractions which move the baby from the uterus and into the birth canal. The pressure of the baby in the vagina stimulates the Ferguson reflex, which is the uncontrollable expulsion of the baby, which happens when nerves in the pelvis are stimulated as the baby descends through the birth canal. This biofeedback sends messages to the brain to release more oxytocin, resulting in two or three strong contractions. The baby is born quickly and easily without voluntary pushing from the mother.

In simple words,   When women wait for the body to relax and stretch, and for their contractions to help the baby move down the birth canal, the baby’s head will hit a nerve bundle near the base of the spine, just after they have fully dilated, which will cause the body to naturally push out the baby.

When does it happen?

Fetal Ejection Reflex generally tends to happen by the end of the labour when the women are in a situation of, “Either kill me or get this thing out of me”. This phase is followed by 2-3 strong contraction which pushes the baby out on itself without any external need of pushing. During the last contraction, women have this huge intense urge to grasp onto something.

After a typical fetal ejection reflex placenta is separated within a few minutes.

Why doesn’t it happen so often now?

Due to highly intrusive procedures, a woman’s body is led to believe that birth is something too complicated and dangerous. This activates the flight and fight response in them. And instead of fighting against fear, they give in to flight response and depends on doctors etc. to dictate them what exactly needs to be done. For them, the hospitals become the ultimate source of motivation and comfort.

This is the reason why hospitals advise you to stay at home during early stages of labour so as to let the body work on its own. Once the mothers enter the hospitals, it’s impossible to activate the fight mode due to the intrusive behaviour of doctors. This could cause adrenaline rise in the body, which slows down labour progress.

How to induce Fetal Ejection Reflex?

The fetal ejection reflex occurs when the mother has experienced a completely undisturbed labour. She feels completely safe and supported, has privacy and is not disturbed by noise and bright lights.

This can happen by choosing a practitioner who acts like a motherly figure rather than as a ‘coach’. Someone who the mother can look up to for comfort and understanding instead of orders. It’s to find a midway between privacy and security.

How to make pushing easier if ‘Fetal Ejection Reflex’ doesn’t happen?

The foremost point to remember is to not push on your back. This is not how the body best gives birth. Women get tired of pushing when they push against gravity. Laying on their back puts pressure on the coccyx (a little bone at the bottom of the spine, cannot move outwards to allow the baby to easily move through the pelvis). Pushing on back puts a lot of weight on this tiny bone, which could even break from the force of baby’s head and thus result in tearing and pain.  

Being upright and squatting, on all fours, or lying on one side are all more comfortable ways to give birth and result in less pushing. Don’t rush to get to the end of labour, try to relax and push when your body actually is ready for it.  

Except for in some extreme cases where the pelvis is too small, the baby too big, or there’s an obstruction in the birth canal, the female body can push a baby out by itself; there’s no need for hours of hard pushing.


Fetal Ejection Reflex leads to less tear and postpartum complications and also a positive birthing experience. Has anyone of you ever experienced this or something even closer to this? Do tell us about it in the Comments Section below.


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