While the awareness about the dangers & disadvantages of giving birth while lying on one’s back is more widespread, this is still the main position in which the majority of women in North America give birth.[ The dangers & disadvantages of Horizontal Birth are outlined in our Tip of the Week postings. ]
Here is something every mother should consider if they are planning on having a child or they are currently expecting a child.
Vertical birth is any position where the baby is actually dropped out of the birth canal as opposed to being pushed out of the birth canal.
This can be achieved by assuming the following positions….. i) hands & knees, ii) standing, iii) kneeling & iv) squatting. Squatting is the easiest on the mother especially when she is supported and/or in water.
In fact, the squatting birth was the way for centuries & centuries until medicine thought there was a better way.
Let’s investigate the advantages of pushing while upright and /or squatting:
Squatting increases the size of the pelvic outlet thereby creating more room for a larger baby or a baby with a presentation issue ( base posterior, breech etc.).
Gravity helps the baby descend.
The force of the uterus during pushing is helped by being upright – gravity assists in the uterus being able to contract & tilt forward.
The baby is better able to present naturally in the mother’s pelvis & rotates into more favourable positions ,if needed, while the mother is upright.
Less pain is felt by the mother as the baby descends past the tailbone due to the fact that there is no pressure ( by a bed ) on this part of her body.
Perineal tissues stretch more easily often reducing the need for postpartum repairs and/or discomfort.
The mother is able to assist in the delivery of her baby, as well as see her own baby being born.
The tail bone is much more flexible in this position & moves with the descent of the baby’s head.
The mother is able to maintain eye contact with care providers if she desires & there are no surprises in touch.
Sitting on the toilet is another favourable position as this is the place where we unconsciously relax our pelvic floor muscles. Some mothers worry about having their babies fall in ( which is rare), but putting a chux pad under the seat will offer some reassurance, as will having another person – the partner, preferably—help with the delivery of the baby.
Most mothers will instinctively start to stand as the head emerges.
Squatting low over a pillow, cushion or mat is a wonderful way to birth, as the baby can slide right out & the mother can easily pick up her own baby after taking in the entire experience.
This compared to babies that are ‘thrown’ up onto the mother’s tummy, seems like a more gentle way for mothers to make the transition after such physical work.
And moreover, just because the cervix is completely dilated, does not mean a mother needs to push ( it is almost normal to have small, involuntary pushes at the peak of contraction to help with the last few centimeters of dilation ).
The uterus will bring the baby down on the pelvic floor with contractions, while the mother breathes or copes with these contractions. After awhile, there will be an overwhelming action of the mother’s body to bear down.
Active pushes by the mother should only occur when the mother feels them, and not between contractions.
Holding of the breath while someone else counts will only fatigue the mother, as well as create the risk of fetal distress due to the decreased oxygen.
The whole idea is to listen to her body.
Some pushing stages take 20 min and others may take 3 hours.
These are all variations of normal and the mother should try a variety of positions that feel good for her.
It is important to stay hydrated and emptying the bladder will help the baby move down into the pelvis as well as helping the uterus contract after the baby and placenta are delivered.
Warm compresses over the perineum may offer some comfort, but hot compresses over a long period of time may swell the perineal tissues. For long pushing stages, cold clothes to stroke the forehead the back of the neck are recommended.
And I cannot stress enough the huge benefit of having regular chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy.
There are several benefits to the mother which only have a positive effect on the fetus.
Some of these being less spinal pain & discomfort ( in the mid and lower back especially ), less digestive upset, less leg pains and cramps, better spinal flexibility & better posture throughout the term.
Most mothers who have regular care throughout their pregnancy report that the birth process itself is quick & easy, and c-sections are rarely required.
Remember that a few weeks before birth, the body is flooded with a hormone called relaxin which is to allow the birth canal and pelvis to relax and open easily.
This hormone remains in circulation for a few weeks after delivery.
Adjustments are critical during this period so when the hormone does dissipate & everything tightens up again, good spinal and pelvic alignment is maintained which will help to prevent post-partum spinal & pelvic pain.
Not to mention that a healthy lower back in the mother means that her uterus is functioning optimally which is so very important as this is the baby’s home for 9 months.
If you have any more questions about chiropractic and pregnancy, please call 905 335 5433.
Remember that consultations are always free.
We are here to help families build vibrant,healthy,drug-free lives.