Friday, March 19, 2010

Birth in an Upright Position

I had a "lightbulb" thought recently, as I watched my baby change positions into a squat position as he pooped in his diaper.

That's when it struck me.

An upright position is instinctively better for birth!

We don't lie down on our back to have a bowel movement. Why would we even think to do that? It doesn't make sense. No one told my baby to squat, or had to explain to him that it would be easier and more comfortable for him that way, or help it come out faster. He instinctively knew what to do, and repositioned himself.

If it comes naturally to squat for such a normal bodily function that we do every day, why wouldn't it be just as natural to do so for the much bigger normal bodily function of birthing a baby?

I'm familiar with the concept of birthing in an upright position. I've blogged about it before:

"Lying on the back is convenient for physicians, but 'it's the worst thing for a woman,' Pam says. This position, while common, is more painful for the woman because it collapses the diameter of the pelvis up to an inch, making delivery more difficult. Instead, Pam recommends women stand upright, move around and squat—keeping their hips higher than their knees—until they find the positions that best suit them."

I've also read articles about how an upright birthing position can be optimal for birthing a breech baby.

I birthed 4 babies in the hospital. Each time I was instructed to lie down on my back in the bed, even when I had no medication to numb me or prevent me from being able to stand, sit or squat.
When I later learned about the physiological benefits of pushing in an upright position, I determined that's what I would do. When I told my midwife (at a prenatal visit during my 5th pregnancy) that I wanted to push in a squatting position, she smiled and said "you will birth in whatever position feels right and makes sense to you in that moment".

As it turned out, I pushed my breech baby out while in a semi-upright position in the birthing tub, stretching my body out as I pushed. It felt so right, and no one needed to tell me what to do.

What if hospitals were to stop instructing women to lie down on their backs to push, and instead to assume whatever position felt best? What position would a woman most likely choose?

What do you think?


  1. I think it would be interesting and that a lot more babies would be born on the toilet:) (It's a natural upright position that also provides support). I had my first two lying on my side(which is good for a tired mom, two sitting straight up in a hospital bed with the feet down (sort of like being in a chair(this was my favorite position), and the last one on my back(the ob on call delivered me:)). Hated the last one:)

  2. I have had 5 hospital births. The first was malpositioned, so we tried many positions to try get him to turn. Eventually I was semi-sitting to push him out, with the help of forceps. #2 I was on all fours, #3 was side-lying, #4 was all fours again and #5 I was standing/ semi squatting. The resident OB wanted me on the bed on my back, but I pretended I didn't hear her lol. He was my biggest baby (10lb 13oz) and the only one I didn't have so much as a skid mark with! :)