For a long time we have ignored the most effective position for giving birth: squatting.
The advantages of squatting have long been known, but in modern medicine has been ignored for positions that were more advantageous for the practitioner's view and the use of instruments such as forceps, stirrups and vacuum extractors.
Benefits of squatting include:
- Shortens the second stage of labor (pushing phase)
- Decreases the need for forceps or vacuum deliveries
- Reduces the need for episiotomy
- Shortens the depth of your birth canal
- Works with gravity
- Increases pelvic diameter by 10+%
These benefits are there because squatting tilts the uterus and pelvis forward, placing the baby in proper alignment for birth. It also encourages and strengthens the intensity of contractions, while reliving back pressure. In the case of reduced need for episiotomy, it actually helps relax and stretch the pelvic floor muscle.
Squatting should be practiced during pregnancy to help strengthen your legs for squatting during birth. You can start with the help of your partner or with the use of a birth ball (physical therapy ball). Go slowly, and be sure to place your feet all the way on the floor as you are learning. It will become easier and easier.
Once in labor you can squat during labor or reserve that for the birth. There are many ways to squat on beds, including the use of a partner, or if you are in the hospital or birth center they have birth or squat bars for your use. There may also be special stools to squat with or even using a small step stool or several phone books stacked works.
Remember to talk to your midwife or doctor about your desire to try squatting in labor. They may have several tricks to make this work very well for you. Or if they are not familiar with squatting, it gives them a chance to learn more about the process to help serve you better. Ask them how they would prepare if they were going to give you advice for pregnancy. A doula can also be helpful.
Labor and birth are a process of movement. Do everything you can to encourage your labor and birth naturally. Squatting is merely one of your options.