<>From “Birthing the Easy Way” by Sheila Stubbs
(advice if a woman gives birth at a hospital)
Don’t Take it Lying Down
STAY ON YOUR FEET
In the hospital the first thing they do is issue you one of those ugly backless nightgown-things and show you to a bed, like any other patient. But you are not “sick” when you are in labour, you are doing a job–an important job, that of bringing forth a new life. STAY ON YOUR FEET, then, because you have an important job to do.
STAY ON YOUR FEET and keep walking because sick, weak people are the ones who need to be in bed. Try to think of yourself as a client using a service rather than a patient. Keep upright and keep walking so you feel freedom to move and not confinement.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, because that raises you up to eye level, where you won’t be looked down upon.
STAY ON YOUR FEET like a capable, healthy person, confident and in control.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, because gravity helps the baby to move down, pressing on the cervix, shortening your labour.
STAY ON YOUR FEET because there is less pain when the weight of the uterus is not pressing on your back.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, because when you lie down, the very bed you lie upon offers resistance to your pelvis, which is doing its best to open up for the baby.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, walking, walking, walking through the contractions, rocking, rocking, easing your baby lower and deeper into the birth canal.
STAY ON YOUR FEET so the doctors and nurses can’t keep invading your body with their painful vaginal exams. They’ll have to ask you to lie down for them, and that puts you
STAY ON YOUR FEET, walking, refusing a lot of unnecessary vaginal exams, until you realize your body is pushing.
How long can you stay on your feet? If you like, you can push while you are standing, or you can go down into a squat, and deliver your baby like that. You don’t need to lie down to have a baby!
Does that surprise you? Did you know that lying on your back, with your legs in stirrups is the WORST position to be in when giving birth? It’s bad for the mother and bad for the baby, but the doctor needs you on your back because it makes his job easier.
Hey, wait a minute! Whose job should be made easier? There are three very important players in this birth scene: There’s the woman in labour, in pain, get a human being through her pelvic bones. No, we won’t worry about her discomfort, we can give her some drugs. There’s the baby, who may be oxygen-deprived if the mother lies on her back causing fetal distress. No, don’t worry about him, we’ll resuscitate if we have to. Then there’s the doctor, who is being paid —well-paid –to catch the baby. Let’s make sure he’s comfortable! Does this make sense?
Staying on your feet and walking isn’t just good sense physiologically – working with gravity instead of against it; more importantly being upright affects how you feel about yourself. A simple thing like staying out of bed makes you feel more capable, confident, and ready to take on the challenge! Lying in bed makes you feel more like a weak, sick person; like a little girl, dependent upon others instead of an adult doing the most grown-up, womanly thing she can do.
Pick up any book on childbirth that shows you the inside view of the baby’s birth. It shows the mother on her back. Now turn the book sideways, and note the angle at which the baby emerges when the mother is upright. Which would be easier?
The doctor likes it when you are on your back because it makes it easier for him:
· to use forceps to pull the baby out — which he won’t need to do if you are upright because you will be able to push more effectively;
· to get the baby out faster — which he won’t need to do because the baby won’t be distressed from the lack of oxygen it would experience if you were on your back;
· to keep close watch on the mother’s blood pressure — which isn’t as much of a concern when she is up and in control and not exhausting herself from ineffective pushing, or getting dizzy from the weight of the baby pressing on the major blood vessels.
It may not seem like a big deal, pushing the baby upwards, but think how hard it is to work against gravity for easy things. Yesterday I was hammering a nail up above my head, and I found it hard pushing that 16 ounce hammer up into the air each time, much more tiring than nailing something lower.
In fact, if your doctor thinks it doesn’t make that much difference in pushing against gravity, agree with him: since he says it’s no big deal, let him work against gravity, catching the baby from beneath while you give birth comfortably low, reclined in an armchair.
©2008 Sheila Stubbs