What exactly do you mean by 'laboring down'? Do you mean not strapped to a bed?
I hear ya Ashley. I've gone into both births having wishes but not NEEDS. I know things can change quickly and in the heat of the moment you need to do what's right for everyone in the given situation. That's why I went from 'hoping for no meds' to a 'planned c-section' with DD so quickly. Although I didn't regret my decision at the time, now I sort of wish I hadn't had to do it that way. Life goes on...
Both times they have told me I'm complete, fully dilated, rushed in the doc for delivery and started prompting me to push. I hear ladies talk about experiencing an urge to push and I never have. I have since wondered if I waited and let the contractions do a little more work if I would reach a point where I have an urge and maybe also if I didn't actively work as much with pushing it wouldn't be so fast or forceful allowing things to stretch and maybe not tear. Yes, I'm a bit obsessed with the not tearing
I think you've got the right idea. Go with it! I've heard that not tearing vs. tearing is a WHOLE different world. Of course, I had every intervention with a c-section so although tearing isn't my first choice, I'd think it's better than a c-section. :P That said, I'm going for none of the above. :P
You can also have them not check you towards the end there. With DD, the doc came in and saw that I was involuntarily pushing, and asked me if I was feeling the urge - I didn't really know what I was doing, I just couldn't stop myself from pushing lightly with each contraction. Then she checked me and I was at 10cm. She didn't encourage lots of active pushing, which was good since S took about an hour of lightly pushing to come out.
This time around, they also didn't check me. Just asked me to tell them when I felt the urge to push. And I was VERY aware that when you do feel the urge, you should push in small bursts (like 5-6 seconds) to help ease the baby down and avoid tearing. The first three contractions where I felt the urge I just let my stomach lightly push. Then by the fourth, the urge was really strong so I pushed for 5 second intervals during the contraction (yes I counted in my head to make sure I didn't go too long since you really want to get the baby out!) Matan came out in about 3 pushes, and I had no tearing whatsoever. With S I had no tears, but a few scratches which were bad enough imo.
Also, I have found that by the time I'm at the urge to push stage, I really don't want to move at all. With S I had been lying on my side, so I stayed there until it was time to deliver and I turned slightly onto my back/side. This time I had been laboring with my hands on the bed and my knees on the floor (much more comfortable than squatting) and I honestly didn't feel like I could move onto the bed if I wanted to, so I just gave birth in that position which worked out really great.
When you feel like you're about to crap in your pants and your stomach won't stop making pushes regardless of what you do - then you're ready to push! I agree that you should be adamant about that to have the birth you want, and avoid tearing.