Were you under the impression that birthing on your back is the best position to bring your beautiful baby earthside? That is what we see on TV shows, movies right? All these warrior mothers lying on their backs, legs in stirrups and being yelled at to PUSH PUSH PUSH PUSH!!
Well let me tell you where that concept came from. It wasn’t always that way, mothers were more instinctual when it came to birthing, they listened to their bodies and they birthed the way that felt right.
Birthing on our backs manifested from King XYZ who ruled France between the years of 1643 to 1715 – he was fascinated by watching his children being born – and ordered his wives/mistresses to lie on their backs while he was watching. He disliked his mistresses birthing on all 4’s or squatting because it obstructed his view.
It was soon realised that this made it a lot easier to see what was going on with the birthing mothers and their babies. Soon enough the medical industry adopted this protocol and birthing on our backs became the norm, it wasn’t about the mother listening to her instincts anymore.
Gravity and Birth
Now I’d like to give you a bit of a visual. When a baby is being born, the baby has to move DOWN the birth canal right? If you are lying on your back, your baby is technically working hard to move UP!
Think about gravity…………how does gravity work? Now why would we want a baby to work against gravity to meet his/her mama? Make sense?
If you are birthing your baby, you really should consider birthing upright. There are all sorts of different upright positions that may work best for you.
Epidural?? No Problem
If you have chosen to have an epidural, there are ways that you can still let gravity work in your favour – or you can ask for a “walking epidural” where the amount that is administered isn’t as high so you are able to move around a little bit.
Some hospitals have “Throne” beds which are perfect for birthing upright while having an epidural – the back of the bed, lifts up and the bottom manoeuvres so you are able to sit upright and birth like the true Warrior/Queen you are.
So what positions are deemed to be the best for birth;
- On all 4’s – get a mattress put on the floor so your knees don’t hurt – This will assist baby down the birth canal because of gravity. It’s the physiological norm for our bodies to help baby down this way.
- Squatting – if you have the leg strength than this is definitely a good position to be able to get baby down down down – but once baby is crowning try and put one knee down, as when you are squatting your peri is stretching quite a bit more with the pressure of the squat and can increase risks of tearing.
- Leaning over (bed/birthing ball/birth pool) – again being upright will assist with gravity – but you will have the ease of leaning over so won’t be feeling too much pressure on your wrists by being on all 4’s and you can grasp what ever you are leaning over for balance and POWER
- CUB – Comfortable Upright Birth. This is a blow up birth assistance – it is in the shape of a C or U (depends how you want to look at it) you can either sit on it, lean over it and your belly leans into the opening or a lot of other ways. I provide a CUB as part of my services
- Birth Stool – most hospital have these readily available – again, it is said that their could me more risks of tearing if you remain sitting on the birth stool once baby is crowning.
- Birthing on the toilet – Yep, birthing on the toilet is a good way to have your baby – if you straddle the toilet, lean over the cistern – you’re upright, not much pressure on your legs – your partner or Doula can rub your back or do hip squeezes. I promise, you won’t drop your baby down the toilet.
- Water Birth – Birthing in water has so many benefits – from pain relief, to weightlessness. Water births also lower your chances of tearing during birth.
There are many ways you can birth that helps with gravity, the above is just a few. Listen to your body, believe in your body to do what it is required to do to bring your baby earth side.
Fuel your mind with knowledge about birth and what your body does throughout birth. Knowledge is power and power is beautiful.
There are circumstance where you may be required to be on your back, but if you can actively be upright throughout most of your labour and only move to your back where truly necessary – your positive birth outcome can be just that, your positive birth.
My name is Jackie O’Neill, I am a Doula who is inspired to help and support Women through their pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. I strive to keep myself informed with the most up to date evidence based information and resources.
“Live your life, Love your body, Birth your way”
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