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It has become custom and practice within the midwifery and obstetric professions in the English-speaking western world for women to be required to follow very specific instructions on how to push in the second stage of labour There is very little literature on the behaviour of women using spontaneous pushing in the second stage of labour In a pilot study of a randomized controlled trial comparing spontaneous (n= 15) with directed (n= 17) pushing, the behaviour of the women was observed and recorded The findings from the observational part of the study are reported in this paper When pushing spontaneously women do not instinctively take a deep breath, they do not start expulsive effort with the commencement of the contraction, and they use both open and closed glottis pushing In order to assist women in the second stage of labour, those caring for them should be aware of what is normal behaviour when women are using spontaneous expulsive effort