Birthing your baby is the ultimate conclusion to your pregnancy. Nine months of carrying and growing your child comes down to a single act of delivery, a process that can be approached in many different ways.
So the question is: How will you decide which method is best for you?
There are many different locations that you can choose to have your child in, the same goes for delivery positions. A position that can decrease the likelihood of a C-section and also ease contractions is a squatting birth.
Many mothers find it to be quicker and easier than a traditional lying down position, and several have opted for the increasingly popular option in the delivery room.
How can Squatting Help?
For most mothers, the first time experiencing labor usually lasts between 12-24 hours. Any labor that follows subsequently to this normally gets cut in half. Regardless, these hours may prove to be unbearable to some mothers. This is why the benefits of squatting can help to reduce pain levels. During a squatting birth, you are forcing your upper leg bones to assist with the widening of your pelvic opening. This can make childbirth a lot quicker and a lot less painful. In this squatting position, you are also allowing more oxygen flow to the uterine muscles, which in turns helps them relax.
While this sounds like the ideal birthing position, it is important to keep in mind that you will need to hold your squat for a long time. Therefore, practicing this position before the birth is a good idea. Once you build up your endurance, you will be able to breathe through any strain that may be felt in your ankles and knees. If you have hired a doula, she may be able to assist you by holding you up or giving you some support for bracing against. Some hospitals are also equipped with squat bars that you may use.
Squatting delivery comes with many positive attributes. Starting with the physical, it helps to put your body in a great position that will likely yield in the result of a natural birth. With pain levels being kept at a reasonable amount, the mother will be able to focus on the pushing rather than pain. This puts less stress on the body and keeps the baby properly aligned with the pelvic region. In this position, the risk of tearing your perineum is also going to be lessened.
Major Benefits of a Squatting Birth:
- Helps to reduce duration of pregnancy due to the force of gravity assisting you
- Reduces the risk of tears in the perineum
- Helps to widen your pelvis and position your baby better
- Increases the oxygen flow to your uterine muscles
- Aids and strengthens contractions for a speedy birth
The History of Squatting Births
As early as the 17th century, there is evidence that squatting births were happening. It is depicted in history textbooks, as well as art pieces. Women back then were not accustomed to the fuss and stress of a lying down birth, with doctors buzzing and monitoring overhead. It was thought to be completely natural to give birth in a squatting position.
In terms of thinking realistically, labor has never been a graceful and painless occurrence. Even women back then experienced excruciating agony from time to time, but their way of approaching labor was much different than the way we do it now in the modern world.
In Africa, mothers still prefer the squatting position while giving birth. They see it as an easier choice when it comes to delivery that assists with activating the proper muscles, which can be hard to locate while lying down. It is thought to work with gravity, rather than against it. In African birthing records and stories throughout history, a common appearance of squatting delivery can be seen.
Practice makes Perfect : Squatting Birth Exercises
As mentioned, practicing your squats ahead of time is going to make the delivery process a lot easier. Prenatal yoga can be a great resource. Yoga is known to keep the body limber and flexible, it will also build up your endurance. The classes are catered to those who are pregnant and will provide you with useful exercises that can be taken out of class and brought into the delivery room. Remember, before going forward with a squatting delivery plan, you must get the green light from your doctor first. Safety is going to be the determining factor.
In addition to practicing the physical aspects of the delivery, it is also important to keep a kit handy with any tools you may need. Perhaps you would enjoy something to squeeze, such as a stress ball or other pliable object. This can help to distract from the pain once contractions begin. If you are more of a visual person, put in a book or magazine with pictures that you can browse through while you are waiting until dilation. The more resources you have, the better off you will be.
Struggles and Concerns
When you are giving birth in a squatting position, anatomy will not necessarily be on your side. While this is the opposite situation as a traditional lying down birth, it is not detrimental to the baby. By taking a squat, you are pushing the baby’s head right into the pelvic bone. Instead of coming from underneath, your baby will be coming straight down. Again, this is not a bad thing, but something to keep in mind.
If you are opting to go with an epidural, it is also noteworthy that you may not be able to last as long in a squatting position due to the numbness. It is advised that if you already anticipate having the epidural, that you do not opt for a squatting birth. Otherwise, there are no other make it or break it reasons why you should not deliver your baby while squatting.
How to Accomplish a Squatting Birth
When you are ready for delivery, it is important to keep track of the placement of your feet. In order to keep your pelvis open, your feet need to be parallel to one another. Keeping your pelvis aligned above your hips is also essential.
If either of these steps is not done properly, you may be putting unnecessary hardship on yourself. If you are unable to hold the squat on your own, despite practicing ahead of time, there are squatting bars and even stools that the hospital may be able to provide you.