I HAVE HEARD ABOUT ALTERNATIVE BIRTH POSITIONS - DOES THIS MEAN I DON'T HAVE TO GIVE BIRTH LYING ON MY BACK?
Alternative birth positions are often also called “upright” birth positions and basically allow our bodies and our babies to work with gravity instead of against it. They can include squatting, standing, sitting, being on all fours and side lying, or essentially being in any position that is instinctive and comfortable for you.
Being in a more upright position allows your pelvis to open and your baby to move down your birth canal. And evidence shows that women who take a more upright position
• Have fewer perineal injuries
• Have less vulvar edema (swelling)
• Have less blood loss
• Have shorter second stages of labour
• Require less pain relief medication
• Have fewer abnormal fetal heart rates
(Cochrane Review 2012)
In addition, having an active first stage of labour that includes walking, lunging, using a birthing ball and movement (all of which are recommended as comfort measures during your labour) also has positive effects, including a lower risk of caesarean and a decreased need for epidural.
If you think about it, giving birth on your back tilts the pelvis forward which means your baby has to fight against gravity to push up through the birth canal and X-ray evidence shows that the actual dimensions of the pelvic outlet become wider in squatting and kneeling/hands-knees positions (Gupta et al. 2012). There is really, absolutely no physiological reason why we give birth on our back.
What has happened however is that there is a recent historical precedent started in 17th Century France by King Louis XIV and as a result, the main cultural image we see is of women giving birth lying down on their backs. In the current age, our health care providers have also been trained in this method, so it is vitally important that if you are keen to use an alternative birth position, then you discuss it early with your doctor to find out if they will support you. There are doctors in Sri Lanka who are happy to support you, so please get in touch with them.