Much of childbirth education is devoted to showing expectant people which positions to assume when laboring, pushing, birthing and breastfeeding.
I do not. Positions and “holds” set up a criterion for how to do it right and how it is done wrong. In support of the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices*, unrestricted movement needs support.
I am getting ready to re-vamp my workbooks for both my Lamaze Prepared Childbirth and Infant Instinct Breastfeeding® classes. I will keep the section in my childbirth book on labor and birth positions, mostly to emphasize to my students that it is their birth and they can move and choose positions without getting permission from the medical providers around them. But this time I will entitle that section: Examples of Labor and Birth Body Postures (Positions).
“Will ‘they’ let me labor and birth like that”, is often asked of me in classes.
Therein Lies the Rub** (i.e., problem). Most American hospitals not only do not encourage “freedom of movement” [Lamaze Birth Care Practice #2, #4 and #5] for labor, pushing, birth and breastfeeding, they give the impression of forbidding it. Granted, some policies in medical facilities “support” freedom of movement for Labor. But the minute the laboring mom reaches Stage 2 (pushing), the staff moves in to restrict freedom of movement.
The truth is, laboring, pushing, and birthing women, left to their owe devices will seek and assume positions that reduce discomfort and facilitate childbirth.
As for breastfeeding, I also do not teach positions. Hospitals and many breastfeeding professionals do, with breastfeeding now Rocket Science. That’s because that’s how it has been done since the 1960’s when America returned to breastfeeding after the 1950’s Decade from Hell where women, for the most part, didn’t breastfeed. Society touted two income families as modern. The Equal Rights Amendment was unheard of yet; women had to return to work right after giving birth or be demoted or fired. Magazines said: “Formula: Better Than Mother’s Milk!” No breast-pumps. So, after a decade without breastfeeding, activists brought breastfeeding back using techniques that SEEMED (?) to work, positioning being one of them.
Why do hospitals and labor staff restrict women’s movements during labor/childbearing?
- It is hard to break archaic habits
- Staff ignorance
- Patient Control
Six Healthy Birth practices That Promote Safe & Healthy Birth
- Let labor begin on its own
- Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor
- Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
- Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
- Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push
- Keep mother and baby together – It’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding
So, ask yourself this question:
Why don’t movie theaters hand out “Most Comfortable Positions for Watching the Movie” flyers?
Because your body will automatically tell you how to sit and change positions while you watch the movie.
*Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1/paraphrased