When it comes to birth positions, it seems we might have missed the memo from Mother Nature, even animals seem to have us beat on this. When was the last time you saw a cow or cat birth their young lying on their back with their legs in the air?
There are so many birth positions which actually optimise your body’s ability to birth much better than lying on your back with your legs in the air and it all comes down to basic science.
During the first stage of labour (dilation), it is helpful to be mobile and upright: swaying or walking through contractions or sitting and bouncing on an exercise ball, or leaning forwards on all fours, as this enables you to benefit from gravitational forces.
In these positions your baby is more likely to adopt the optimal position of headfirst and back facing your belly. This pressure on your cervix from baby also aids in the progression of labour.
Women who spend the majority of this stage of labour on their backs often feel limited in their ability to move and adopt a position which can support them with their contractions and can find the added pressure on their pelvis and back from the baby more painful.
Plus aren’t we told not to lie on our backs when pregnant, so why are we birthing on our backs? If you spend long periods of your labour lying on your back, you are affectively creating a hammock for your baby to lie in and on occasion a baby who was in an optimal position (headfirst and back to mother’s belly) might end up spinning around and being then back-to-back known as Posterior Position. This is because the heaviest part of the baby is the back of the head and spine. Lying on your back simply allows gravity to encourage baby to adopt the easiest position. Not the easiest position for mum or baby when it comes to birth as this position could prevent baby from being able to tuck its chin in when coming down the birth canal.
Movement during labour allows for a sense of freedom and control on the mother’s part, she can do what feels good for her and change it up at any point.
If you do get tired, resting on your side is preferable to your back.
During the second stage of labour when breathing baby out, if you are in an upright position gravity aids the descent of your baby whilst ensuring the coccyx is able to move freely as your baby passes through the pelvis. Being on your back reduces the pelvic opening by up to 30% and the curve of the pelvis is affected. By lying on your back you actually end up not only pushing your baby uphill but against gravity too.
By Ellie Dearden
Hypnobirthing Instructor at Born to Birth Company