- Image via Wikipedia
Pregnancy is an interesting 9 month journey during which a woman goes through several stages of psychological changes.
Women learn they are pregnant, anticipate the birth of their child and then move back to learning about the growth and development of their child and the process of labor and delivery.
During labor and delivery women today have several options as to childbirth positions, or the various physical postures that she may assume during the process of childbirth.
In some circles this is also known as delivery positions or labor positions although they refer to two different stages of the process.
Today many hospitals give the woman a choice of positions in which they can labor or deliver. In some cases they insist on the traditional lithotomy position used by obstetricians during the actual delivery but allow women to labor in whatever position seems most comfortable to them.
During the past decades midwives and other practitioners have introduced other child birth positions in an effort to improve the pain management during labor and the efficiency of delivery. Only recently have very scientific studies and review been initiated to determine the benefits and dangers of non-lithotomy positioning during labor and delivery. Early evidence suggests that these positions may actually help the normal progress of labor.
Most practitioners today agree that there is no one correct child birth position for pushing. The lithotomy position may be the most convenient for the obstetrician but it is also a position that can be accomplished in seconds in the case of an emergency. And since it isnt the obstetrician who is doing the hard work of labor it is most conducive for a productive labor for the woman to choose the position.
Women should learn each of the potential positions and practice them before labor and delivery so they may choose their child birth position easily during the process. Women should practice each one through a couple of practice contractions but not practice pushing since this would put an unnecessary strain on the cervix.
The first child birth position is sitting; it is easy to assume, comfortable for most mothers and practitioners and is practical to move from active pushing during a contraction to resting between contractions. Another advantage is that you are pushing with gravity and not against it. For instance you can be sitting in the birthing bed and raise up and forward to push and lean backward to rest.
The disadvantage of sitting and pushing is that you are sitting on the tailbone and it cant move as freely which hinders the ability of the baby to move through the birth canal. It is also a possibility that the uneven pressure will cause a vaginal tear.
Another position women find comfortable is lying on the left side, raising up on one elbow while holding the top leg open with knees bent. When resting the woman then just lets her leg down and goes back to side-lying. This position may help slow a baby who is coming too fast and will take the pressure off of the back for women who are having back pain. If the baby isnt coming too fast it may prolong the pushing stage and some caregivers find this position unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
One position that most women find comfortable during the pushing stage but most caregivers find unfamiliar is on all fours. On their hands and knees this is a good position for a baby is posterior position since it might help them to turn around, it can relieve back pain and is the ideal position to resolve shoulder dystocia. Pushing from all fours involves the use of gravity but a big negative is that it isn’t easy to go from a pushing phase to the resting phase.
The most natural child birth position for women is the squat. However, it is also the most difficult to assume and makes it difficult to get to a resting position after pushing. Squatting helps the body to work most efficiently, evens out the pressure of the baby’s head against the vagina and opens the outlet of the pelvis.
In the U.S. most practitioners are most comfortable with, and want their expectant moms to assume, the lithotomy position. In this position the woman is on her back with feet in stirrups. It is most convenient for the caregiver but most women find it most uncomfortable, the tailbone has less movement available, the baby’s head against the vagina is uneven and the woman is pushing against gravity.
The key to choosing the child birth position is to find one that is most comfortable for you and safe for your baby. Recognize that you do have choices, try the positions and choose two or three that you are most confident with; understand what you are doing and why you are doing it so that you can communicate your wishes with your caregivers. And remember that each birth is different just as each baby and child is different. If you listen to your body you’ll find the method and position that works the best and is easiest for you that day.