My wife and I just had our son. When you are expecting the birth of your child, most people would like to believe that the hospital, nurses, and doctors offer some needed insightful professional and personal advice on how to make the delivery as natural and comfortable as possible. You are counting on their expertise and experience to tell you if is it better to lie down or move around and walk. Or maybe it’s better to use an exercise swiss ball to help open up the birthing canal.
Our expectations weren’t met.
We got no helpful advice from anyone in the hospital. The nurses and doctors suggested that my wife just lay there with her legs up in the air and push. For the majority of US women giving birth in hospitals, this remains the most common birthing position — flat-on-back with legs pulled back to either side and semi-sitting, also known as the C-position – resting on tailbone with body curled in the shape of a C.
This position isn’t what’s best for giving birth; it’s what’s most convenient for doctors. Although it allows doctors easiest access to the birthing woman, it puts undue stain on the mother’s body. In this position, the pelvic outlet is smaller, forcing the woman to put direct pressure on her tailbone, which flexes it upward, forcing it into a curved position and restricting the diameter of the pelvic outlet. This can inhibit the baby’s descent through the maternal pelvis. Pushing upward against gravity to expel the baby puts added stress and pain on an already stressful and painful situation.
Lying on your back position puts too much pressure on the woman’s legs, and causes excessive hip abduction and external rotation. This position leads to increased risk of perieal laceration as well as prolonged pubic pain for the mother and lasting complications after birth such as difficulty walking.
An “ideal birth” position allows the mother’s sacrum and coccyx the freedom to rotate backward, the rest of the pelvis room to open to optimal dimensions to allow for birth, and contractions to remain strong and close together. The mother should choose the position that best enhances the quality of her contractions and her ability to push.”
Here are a few options that provide the mommy and the baby a more natural position during the birth process.
Standing and walking during active labor. During contractions, you can stop to lean against the wall or on your partner.
Swaying back and forth. You can do it by using a rocking chair if one is available.
Sitting. Either on a bed or a chair with pillows supporting your back. You can also try to sit leaning forward, which takes some pressure off your back.
Get on your hands and knees. Research shows that being on your hands and knees may offer some relief from back pain before and during labor.
Sit on an exercise ball. This position allows you to stay in a squat position and move your hips around while most of your weight is supported.
Find a restful position – lay on your side. This position can give a laboring woman a needed break, while avoiding the compression of major blood vessels that may occur when lying on your back. Start by lying on your left side, which is preferable for blood flow.
The bottom line is that there needs to be more advice provided to the expecting family. Do your research. Sit in different positions and feel the pressure on your body and where it changes as you move. Ask your doctor for other position options. This is your birth. Make it as painless as possible. You want the 3 a.m. feedings to hurt, not your labor and recovery.