Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stand and deliver!

Hannah Dahlen, Professor of Midwifery in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at University of Western Sydney, raises a very valid question. Why are Australian women still lying down to give birth? I’ve been writing about the benefits of being upright during labour for almost thirty years - but I’m just one of a chorus of voices advocating an active birth and explaining the role of gravity in assisting the baby down the birth canal. I’m just one of hundreds describing the ways in which women laboured in traditional societies - sitting on a pile of bricks or on a birthing stool, hanging suspended with the help of ropes, or supported in a squatting position. Even in modern birthing suites, if women are not instructed by a midwife or obstetrician, they will almost all give birth upright and forward leaning ... wonderful how their bodies know instinctively which way to go.

Of course the trend to birthing in the horizontal position is linked to the medicalisation of birth and the move from midwifery to obstetric care - the doctor’s job is facilitated when the woman is horizontal and at eye level. Dahlen calls for women to get off the bed and “stand and deliver.” When you’re upright to give birth you can expect stronger contractions, shorter labour, less need for forceps, vacuum extractions and episiotomies and better health for you and your baby. So get off the bed girls!

No comments: