No matter how hard our society and popular culture try to tell us that THE way to have a baby is by lying flat on your back with ten people yelling in your face ‘Push!!! 2… 3… 4… ,’ I am here to tell you that there are organizations pushing back on your behalf. Lamaze International (they’re not just your mother’s Lamaze any more) has made it’s way as mothers’ advocates, and as part of their 6 Healthy Birth Practices (more to come on all of these), Lamaze advocates for you to ‘avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.’ The research shows that women who gave birth upright had shorter pushing times and less severe pain, and it suggests that spontaneous pushing is more beneficial than coached pushing. See Lamaze’s healthy birth practice video on upright and spontaneous pushing here.
At this point, for me, and hopefully for you, the why is resolved. To read more for more convincing, visit here. But now HOW? As a doula, I have seen supported squats and hands and knees pushing result in beautiful births. But for myself, I know the lack of strength in my legs, and potentially my partner’s arms.
So I began training. (I’m not pregnant, but have a 2 1/2 year old, and definitely want him to have siblings, and I’m certain this training will serve me well in life, even outside of childbirth.) I think most women practice putting toilet paper down on public restroom toilet seats before taking a seat themselves. So here’s the training: stop putting toilet paper down and squat. Yes, I know, it may be the norm in loads of developed countries on squattie potties, but we ladies in the US are so accustomed to having our thighs supported so we can relax our sphincters and let fall. This will be particularly great training for you if you experience stage fright in public restrooms. For myself, staying strong in my legs (no I will not lapse and just sit down on a bare seat), while staying relaxed to pee is so similar to a squatting birth position. A birthing woman in an upright position must stay relaxed in her birth canal for baby’s descent and support part, if not all, of her body’s weight on her bent legs.
And yes, there are birthing stools (if your birth facility loves you that much), squat bars (yes, at your hospital tour the hospital has them ready and available, but it’s a mystery what happens to them once you enter the hospital in labor), and partners with strong arms to support you, and beds to lay back on between pushing, but practicing squats, especially while using the toilet, gives you the added assurance that you are strong enough and CAN birth your baby while in a squat position, and may save you time and germs the next time you’re at a public toilet.
So, at your next prenatal appointment ask your care provider, ‘I understand that the research shows that pushing spontaneously in an upright position is more beneficial to a birthing woman. I’m doing my part by practicing squats. I would so appreciate your help with this. How can you help me be upright during my birthing time?”