I believe that labor and birth is a transformational feminist experience. This milestone event should be empowering and the birthing individual should feel supported, validated, and respected by her expert care team. Unfortunately, my feminist birthing sentiment isn’t the cultural norm in the United States. In fact, according to Evidence Based Birth’s State of Maternity Care (2018), the sad reality is that 57% of birthing individuals are confined to the bed once admitted to the hospital and 68% of people remain in a back-lying position to give birth. Neither one of these routine practices are supported by evidence and both can feel disempowering and be potentially harmful to both mother and baby.
But you don’t have to give birth in a recumbent position out of routine practice or for the convenience of your care provider! Both the World Health Organization and the best evidence we currently have recommends that individuals birth in an upright position or in a way that is most comfortable for them. I like to refer to upright birth as feminist birth because it is the birthing individual’s choice as to which position is optimal.
Here are some valuable statistics and more information about the benefits of feminist birth positions:
Feminist Birth Positions To Consider:
Get off your back and birth in a position that is most comfortable for you!
- Squatting: Birth in a squatting position can increase pelvic space by about 30%. It may be helpful to have your partner, a birth stool, or the CUB provide support and stability.
- Standing: Pushing in a standing position, with or without the support of your birth partner or doula, is helpful because gravity serves as a natural assistant to help baby be born.
- Hands and Knees: Both your arms and legs support your body weight in this position. It also enables your belly to hang away from your body, potentially reducing pressure or pain on your lower back and providing more oxygen-rich blood to baby.
Feminist Birth Positions Resources:
Learn more about research that supports upright birth and resources to help you achieve a feminist birth!
- Evidence Based Birth has a ‘Signature Article’ all about the history of birth positions and research supporting upright birthing positions.
- Comfortable Upright Birth (CUB) is an inflatable labor and birth support cushion that you can use in a variety of ways during labor and birth. You can find helpful resources, information, and research that supports upright birth positions with the use of the CUB on their website.
Do you want to learn more about our maternity care landscape? Interested in attending an empowering feminist childbirth education course? Then please reach out to us!