Fundal pressure

Fundal pressure: a practice still in use while already banned

Why is fundal pressure performed and why is it important to quit using it?

What is fundal pressure?

It corresponds to the action by which a caregiver pushes downward at the top of the uterus of the woman who is giving birth. The expected purpose of this act is to speed up childbirth.

Why is this obstetric practice banned?

There are several health risks to both mother and child.

Risks for the mom:

  • Stomach pain and bruises,
  • Rib fracture,
  • Perineal lacerations (body part going from the top of the vagina to below the anus),
  • Spleen injuries (an organ that regulates blood),
  • Liver injuries

As for the baby, he or she risks a decreased:

  • Pulse,
  • Reactivity,
  • Skin colour,
  • Muscle tone,
  • Breathing,

Is fundal pressure still practiced?

Even though it is forbidden in France since 2007, it is still done by caregivers, doctors and midwives. Indeed, even though there are no official figures in France, according to a survey of 20,000 women conducted by the CIANE (a group of French organisations working on matters related to pregnancy and childbirth):

One in five women declared that caregivers used fundal pressure during delivery to help the baby’s expulsion.

This fundal pressure practice is an act that absolutely needs to be prohibited because of its high number of risks for both mother and child.

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