For some bizarre reason in the US, a huge percentage of babies are born to mothers who are lying on their backs with their feet in stirrups or being held by doctors. It goes against every natural instinct and even gravity, yet still we do it. Maybe labor wouldn't get such a bad rap if we delivered the way nature intended.
There are many reasons not to give birth on the back and really only one to do so -- doctor's convenience. But on your back, the uterus compresses major blood vessels, which is why women aren't supposed to lie on their backs during the later stages of pregnancy. This could deprive the baby of oxygen or make mom feel dizzy or queasy. The baby’s head also puts pressure on pelvic nerves in the sacrum, which makes labor contractions more painful.
If the baby’s head is bearing down on the cervix, dilation happens faster. Certified nurse-midwife Katy Dawley, the director of the Institute of Midwifery at Philadelphia University in Pennsylvania, told Fit Pregnancy:
Lying on your side, standing, sitting, walking, rocking—anything that keeps you active can help decrease pain and speed up labor. In the throes of labor, you’re not going to be able to advocate for yourself.
Movement helps ease labor pains and squatting helps move the baby into position. I used a birthing stool that helped me squat both times, and both of my labors were fast, easy, and had relatively little pain. Fit Pregnancy lists the best labor positions in a recent article and they include easy ways to ease the pain and then suggest squatting during the pushing phase.
A warm bath does wonders, as does a birthing ball and counter-pressure applied from a partner or doula. Women who choose natural, drug-free birth don't necessarily do so because they're simply insane or want to show others up (as is often assumed). It's also just often a faster, easier way of giving birth.
The way we give birth in this country goes against nature in so many ways. Why not open our minds to the possibilities and look at other cultures and how they do things? We might find easier ways of bringing our children into the world. Is that really so wrong?
Did you use any of these positions?
Image via jessicafm/Flickr