This time around, after being reminded of the imagine-you’re-pooping advice by a friend, I thought of that and only that. I pretended to poop. The baby popped out in less than 10 minutes.

Of course, this is simply my personal tale—every body is different and there are many factors that contribute to how babies ultimately arrive. Any way that you safely give birth is a very good way. It’s also worth noting that first-time moms typically have longer deliveries from start to finish—the first stage of labor usually lasts about 12 to 13 hours for a first baby versus 7 to 8 hours for a second.

Still, it is a good image to start with for vaginal deliveries, all due to the natural physiology of birth. Here’s a video depicting a baby’s head descending and pushing on the rectum. “When you’re pushing a poop out, you’re using the same muscles that you push a baby out with,” says Marianne Ryan, a New York-based physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. “It’s basically the same mechanism.” She says the visualization can be especially helpful if you have an epidural, as you may not be able to feel your muscles.

As for the shared fear of pooping actual poop, this is something you must push past, literally. It may very well happen. (When I asked my husband if it happened to me, he responded “definitely!” which I’ll translate as “probably not.”) Many childbirth experts say they’re happy when they see poop because it means the woman is pushing correctly.

There you go. Forget opening like a flower and push like you’re pooping. It works. Pass it on.

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