Why do women birth on their back?
Whenever you see a woman giving birth on television or in films, inevitably they are on their back, pushing, panting and screaming. The doctor is close by and proudly hands the woman her baby once she has miraculously pushed it out against all odds.
Giving birth on your back with your feet in stirrups is the same as trying to have a bowel movement in the same position, it is much harder than if you are upright, with your feet firmly planted on the floor. The opening to a woman’s pelvis is around 30% greater when in an upright position as compared to lying on her back.
An upright position allows you to use the force of gravity, use the power of your own muscular system and move more freely to assist the baby’s passage.
So WHY do women give birth on their back?
This trend began back in the days of King Louis XIV of France, who according to historical records, was a voyeur. He wanted to be able to observe the women of his court giving birth and not be seen himself. It was far easier to do so if the woman was on her back with her legs in the air. As a result, this method became fashionable amongst the nobility or upper classes. The rise of the middle classes in the 18th century led to more and more women adopting this “upper class” fashion. At the same time, doctors became more involved in delivering babies, especially to those who could afford it. The lithotomy position (lying on back) was far more convenient for doctors who could sit comfortably on a stool and deliver the baby.
The highly medicalised birthing model, that is so prevalent in today’s age, likes women to be in a bed and on her back so that they maintain full control. Women are immobilised by foetal heart monitors and epidurals. The obstetrician can come in and perform all his “miracles” and hey presto he delivers the baby.
I have given birth to three babies and the last position I would have wanted to be in for any of the births was on my back, with my legs in the air.
I am always astounded and dismayed when I see birthing videos with the woman on her back, literally pushing uphill. It makes no sense at all!
I encourage all those birthing mama’s out there to take back their power and get on their feet! Adopt the position that is most comfortable to you rather than what is the most convenient for the medical staff!
It will make the world of difference to how you birth your babies!