Pushing may be the best time in all of labor. Your partner has worked her way through early and active labor. She has survived the horror-show known as transition, which has opened her cervix from about seven centimeters to ten. Having arrived there, she can finally push. Being able to push her baby out, to exert herself in this way, often gives a woman a renewed sense of power and energy.
It's a good time for you, too. You've traveled this long road with her. You've been there the whole way, and the end appears to be in sight. Unlike in the movies, though, pushing seldom ever takes only a few minutes. It can last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours or longer.
With your partner pushing and becoming more physically assertive, her legs are spread wide and she is back on her buttocks. You will probably be holding one of her legs, while a nurse is holding the other. Both of you intently watch the monitor to see when the next contraction is coming on. She can push when a contraction comes on. She grits her teeth and summons all her energy while you encourage her and tell her to give it everything she has.
After the contraction passes, she relaxes. Then another contraction comes up and she makes another supreme effort. And another and another. During the contractions, her voice rises to a scream, but you tell her that her cries only disperse her energy. She needs to direct her power downward with a low, guttural growl.
Down and out, that's your message to your partner. Down and out. Then your baby's head appears for the first time in the birth canal.