In this article, we’ll discuss the greatest birthing positions, moving beyond the traditional supine position. From standing to squatting on your hands and knees, experts and parents explain why these alternative positions for childbirth are worth exploring.
Many of us are accustomed to seeing photographs of women giving birth in the usual “hospital” position: reclining in bed with their legs elevated as a doctor instructs them to push from the foot of the bed. In addition, according to studies published in BMC Pregnancy and Delivery, over 68% of births occur in the supine (back) position.
Some may be unaware, however, that other positions, including squatting or standing, may be more effective and even more comfortable for labor. Experts and actual parents weigh in on the optimal childbirth positions.
Why Birth Position Is Important
Knowing about various birthing positions not only provides laboring people with more options but can also help them feel more in control of the delivery process, resulting in better outcomes such as decreased pain. Saleemah McNeil CLC, MS, MFT, a reproductive psychotherapist, and birth doula, believes in taking charge of your labor experience. She notes that for many individuals, their position during labor has a significant impact on their degree of comfort.
McNeil states, “There are many more comfortable positions than resting on your back like a bug.” It was easier for male physicians to check and “control” the birthing process when they began attending births as opposed to female midwives. Yet, this does not inherently improve the experience because lying on your back really requires you to work against gravity.
“Many common positions include standing, utilizing the natural gravitational pull of the universe to help your baby descend,” she says. “In contrast, the baby’s trip declines when you are on your back. The route then ascends a hill that is the original canal.” McNeil notes that this can lead to ripping or specific cervical lacerations.
Birthing Positions to Try
McNeil encourages her clients to experiment with various birthing positions in order to determine which one works best for them. Here are four popular birthing positions advocated by actual birthing parents and childbirth professionals.
In addition to lunging and crouching, standing can also involve leaning on your partner for support. Kimberly Eversly, 32, delivered her first two children on her back and her third child while standing.
She adds that the first two deliveries were horrible, so for her third, she began to do her study. Eversly states, “I hired a midwife and was able to construct a birth plan.” They adhered to my birth plan from start to finish.
She was aware that there could be adjustments in the event of an emergency, but she nevertheless utilized a pool and shower during her labor. “I was receiving massages and felt so relaxed that my labor was the simplest I’ve ever experienced. I barely felt discomfort. You know when ladies scream on television as though they are dying, right? I did not scream for the first time in my life.”
2. Hands and knees
By her fourth pregnancy, Eversly felt like an expert. She chose to be on her hands and knees this time. She recalls, “This was the most pleasant experience. I was on all fours like a dog on a steeper hill this time. On a steeper hill, I was on all fours like a dog this time. The doctor remarked, “Dude, I need you to inform other mothers about this,” as she was immediately delivered.” Her labor durations were nine, three, one hour, and less than an hour, in that order.
She asserts that advocating for herself was crucial, but her physician remained unenthusiastic. “I had to express some anger. I informed them after having access to a midwife and having such a wonderful experience, I’m not doing it alone.” Despite allowing me to do it, he appeared terrified. He was holding his palms out as if he were expecting a football. “Oh my God, I have to capture somebody’s child!”
Kimberly Howell, DPT is a pelvic floor specialist, and she argues that laying on your back puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to birth. She continues, “You cannot employ your core and pelvic floor to facilitate pushing.” Squatting, on the other hand, can help expand your pelvis, and it uses gravity. There is only one location for the baby to move when you are crouching.
Many individuals discover that a squatting position, whether active or supported by birth partners, allows gravity and appropriate muscular recruitment to play a larger role. A birthing bar can facilitate a squatting position in a hospital or birthing center.
Howell explains that lying on one’s side reduces the likelihood of perineal tears. This is because it facilitates pelvic opening and provides control during pushing.
Genelle Adrian, 33, of Columbia, Maryland, gave birth to her daughter on her side after strolling around her house for as long as she could. She only pushed for 25 minutes. Adrian adds, “I didn’t require any pain medicine, which was a pleasant surprise.”
“Conversations with my doctor and doula beforehand were largely responsible for making this feasible. I was really adamant about what I wanted, and although things didn’t go precisely as planned, I did my best to adhere to my birth plan.”
Selecting the Ideal Birthing Position
There are times when a preferred delivery position cannot be utilized. This includes after an epidural, if difficulties arise, and if the infant requires continuous monitoring. If feasible, McNeil suggests requesting intermittent monitoring so that you can continue moving around. As long as you are not entangled with intravenous lines, you may request to get up and move around.
People frequently discover that their birth plans cannot be followed precisely, or as McNeil puts it, “there is always a plan for the plan.” She advises that having a backup plan will help things go your way, but if the baby’s life is in danger, you should do whatever is best.
Howell also advocates maintaining an active pregnancy to facilitate birthing. She states that a combination of aerobic activity and resistance training during pregnancy can significantly aid in preparing the body for childbirth. “As a physical therapist, I intend to integrate focused hip and thigh muscle workouts for many pregnant patients. Each person’s regimen is personalized to their needs and updated based on tolerance.”
As far as the best posture to give birth, our specialists and parents concur that whatever the pregnant individual chooses is optimal. Birth experiences are never the same.
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