As the story goes, the first woman to give birth lying down was the mistress of French King Louis XIV. He wanted to watch his child being born and the doctor noticed it would be easier for him to see if his mistress was lying flat. It seems this new birthing position caught on and it soon became the normal way to deliver. However, while it may now be the norm, it doesn’t make for an easy delivery. In fact, birthing in the upright position is far more natural and appears to be associated with several benefits, including shortened labour time, fewer interventions and less pain. To learn more about the benefits of giving birth upright, we talked to doula and hypnobirthing practitioner Nic Bambury. Here’s what she had to say.
Benefits for giving birth upright #1: Gravity is on your side
When you lay on your back, your coccyx is curled up, so during birth baby has to make an uphill journey. If on the other hand you’re upright, you can work with gravity, which assists with the baby’s descent and leads to a more straightforward delivery.
Benefits for giving birth upright #2: You’re less likely to need an intervention
In addition to gravity, being in an upright position means you’re able to use your hips and pelvis more effectively, which aids birth. It stands to reason then that you’re less likely to need interventions such as forceps, episiotomy or vacuum.
Benefits for giving birth upright #3: It increases pelvic space
Being in an upright position increases your pelvic diameter by about 30%. If you are worried about giving birth to a large baby, or you’re concerned about your pelvic ability, being upright helps to make more space for the baby to descend, which can only be a good thing.
Benefits for giving birth upright #4: It’s nature’s design
A lot of us have preconceptions about how we are supposed to give birth, and that’s because when we see women give birth on television, they’re almost always lying down. However, if you look at cultures that aren’t exposed to this kind of material, the chances are that during birth the mother’s instincts will tell her to get into an upright position, whether that is on all fours, squatting or on her knees leaning against something. The simple reason for this is that it’s the more effective way to give birth.
Benefits for giving birth upright #5: It aids contractions
Contractions (or waves) push your baby’s down the birth canal and if you’re in an upright position, gravity will assist with this, making contractions much more efficient and less painful.
Benefits for giving birth upright #6: It shortens labour
… And with efficient contractions, you get a shorter labour. As well as being upright, if you get into the squat position you actually shorten the birth canal, which means baby has less distance to travel.
Benefits for giving birth upright #7: You’ll feel less pain
Being in an upright position will reduce the level of pain you feel. The reason for this is that when you’re on your back, you’re working against gravity, which puts more pressure on the body.
For more information about Nic Bambury or to book a Hypnobirthing course with her click here.