Fundal Pressure



What is fundal pressure?

How can having fundal pressure affect my pelvic floor?

What are other ways to help a baby come through the birth canal?

Is fundal pressure ever a useful procedure?



What is fundal pressure?

Fundal pressure is when someone on the health care team presses on a woman's abdomen to help move the baby out.

How can having fundal pressure affect my pelvic floor?

Although fundal pressure has not been adequately studied, two studies have found that this procedure greatly increases the likelihood of tears into or through the anal muscle. Anal muscle tears can lead to leaking gas — and more rarely, feces — or a sense of urgency about elimination (bowel incontinence) as well as increased likelihood of pain during sexual intercourse.

What are other ways to help a baby come through the birth canal?

Time and trying various pushing positions — especially upright positions that allow gravity to assist the process — will work in most cases. If those measures fail, a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery (assisted vaginal birth) may be in order. Speak with your caregiver about avoiding an episiotomy during an assisted birth. If no episiotomy is performed, tears into the anal muscle rarely occur.

Is fundal pressure ever a useful procedure?

Given available evidence associating fundal pressure with tears into or through the anal muscle, and no clear documentation of benefits, it would be wise to avoid this procedure.

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 2/21/2006