Being prepared for your baby’s birth may seem like an impossible task. Certainly there are portions of childbirth that are beyond any woman’s control and that’s okay–it’s natures way of doing what it has to, and it will do that irregardless of what’s going on around it. Because the force of labor cannot be stopped, we might as well make the best of it, and knowing how to help your baby down and out more easily can speed labor, and reduce pain as well as the need for some types of invasive medical interventions.
For me, it was the traditional hospital birth–flat on my back in a bed with wires, tubes, IV’s and monitors. And to top it off,add not just one epidural, but two consecutive ones with the birth of my second child. This was the type of birth that I preferred, however we know that many, many women prefer something very different. And while you may think that I only support childbirth the way I did it, I actually really enjoy helping women deliver their own way. After all, childbirth is NOT an illness, right? So the point I’m trying to get to here is about the laying on your back issue…for me, it was probably better because I only took two hours start to finish and if I had been afforded the luxury of squatting, or walking, or sitting on the toilet, we would have had a tremendously fast delivery.
So what are the best labor positions? Honestly, it’s up to you. For me, I wanted to lay on my back. Logic and common sense tells you that laying flat on your back is completely counterproductive though. Without the help of gravity to bring the baby down and a pelvis that may not be open wide enough to accommodate a baby as it moves through the birth canal, this position can be the most problematic.
I really think that squatting is best. If you are preparing to deliver and want to go it without an epidural then talk with your doctor and nurses about alternate birthing positions. A squat bar, your birth partner, or even a birthing ball may be used to assist you to a sitting position where you pelvis can open and your baby can descend more easily. I think many American women view squatting as primal, or too inappropriate, thanks to years of being told they must lay down and they are often afraid to ask for something different.
There are many alterations on the squat–side lying, seated in a chair, and even standing if you can do it. (And if there are any of you out there who stood to give birth, let me know who you are so I can send you some flowers–I don’t see how it could be possible…)
I just can’t stress enough how important it is to do what feels natural and right for you. Some women want to be involved in reaching down and assisting with the delivery…some women wish for a blindfold. Either way, just remember that this is your baby, your birth, and it will only come by this way once. So work to make it yours.