This pilot study focuses on the bearing-down phenomenon of the second stage of labor, within the theoretical framework of Levine's conservation principles for nursing practice. The purpose of this study is to contrast the effects of two learned approaches to parturient participation during the second stage of labor. A control group (n = 5) was taught the traditional approach to second stage bearing-down efforts: sustained breath-holding. An experimental group (n = 5) was taught to bear-down only with the involuntary urge. No differences were found in the mean duration of the second stage, phases within second stage, Apgar scores, or maternal report of effort. Perineal integrity was preserved in the experimental group. These findings suggest that involuntary bearing-down efforts are accompanied by adequate labor progress and result in less perineal trauma. Further examination of the common practice of encouraging women to bear down strenuously during the second stage, instead of responding to their involuntary urge, is recommended.