This week I was reflecting on conversations in antenatal classes. In Daisy Birthing and an Active Birth Workshop, we talked about how birth looks to us. When we talk about positions for birth – for labour or for bearing down/pushing – I always ask what position everyone things is good for this stage.
By this stage they have usually learnt a few things from me and you can see some uncertainty. The image in their head is lying on your back on a hospital bed but they can already see that isn’t what I am going to suggest.
The science tells us that upright and forward leaning positions are going to be the best way for labour to progress. Gravity is your friend! UFO is what you need to remember – Upright Forward Open. If you want to know more get yourself booked onto a class with me!
So why is it that we all picture a hospital bed and someone in a semi reclined position, or maybe even with their feet in stirrups?
The simple answer is SCREENS! All of our screens. Whether you have seen birth in films, soap operas or documentaries the chances are pretty much every single one will show a medicalised birth with the woman on her back on the bed. Probably hooked up to various monitors and drugs with doctors and midwives saving the day as she screws up her face and pushes as hard as she can.
We see this from such a young age that it is how we learn about birth. Very few of us will be present at a birth before we have our own babies. Those days are gone, where we would have learnt about birth from mothers, aunts, cousins, sisters as they birthed their own babies. Now we have learnt about birth from something designed to capture our attention, to be dramatic enough to draw us in and leave us wondering and edited or imagined for ratings.
Yes many births do look like this. But why?
Because our expectations are there. Because we walk into a hospital room in pain, maybe already feeling like we are exhausted and struggling, and the first thing we see? A bed. So we climb on and lie down.
If you haven’t been able to access antenatal classes or had a chance to learn about birth, why would you do anything else. It’s how birth works, we’ve seen it on TV or in films.
When we start to prepare for birth we need to reframe. We need to see birth in a completely different light. One where the birthing person is in control, where they are in positions that are comfortable and help their labour progress. But if you’ve never seen someone labour on their hands and knees and leaning over a birthing ball or the end of the bed, why would you do it?
Instinct! Our instincts are good, our bodies can birth babies, but we’ve lost our confidence.
We think we need help and guidance (sometimes we do, but I’m not talking about needing medical intervention here) to get our babies out because we don’t know what to do and the people caring for us are the experts. And they absolutely are, although when it comes to YOUR body and YOUR baby it’s YOU who is the expert.
It's not uncommon for someone in labour to want to be close to the ground, to feel safe and private. So being on all fours with your head down and eyes closed is perfect. Or to raise your arms as your baby’s head crowns – so holding on to the top of the bed as you lean forwards into the pillows comes naturally. Maybe it’s a need to rest and regroup in between contractions, so being on your knees leaning on a ball or the bed is perfect for you.
The important thing is having the freedom to move and not being restricted by the images in your head. Even with monitoring, drips, epidurals in place you can be helped to move into positions that work better for you. Maybe sitting beside your bed on a ball, standing leaning on the bed or lying on your side. There are so many benefits to not being on your back that a bit of creativity and help from your birth partner can go a long way.
Reframe your birth and find the positions that work for you and your baby.
If you want to learn more about how you can work with your body and help your labour progress more smoothly, come and join our classes. I would love to help you become more confident and empowered as you prepare to meet your baby https://thedaisyfoundation.com/beth-owen/