There are a lot of things that the movies and television get wrong about labor, like scenes where a woman's water breaking is akin to a tidal wave of fluid — hint, it's more like peeing yourself — and perfectly plump, clean babies being handed to their glowing mamas. Um, no. Anyway, it's easy to see where women might approach the labor process with misconceptions, including the position in which you can give birth. But if you have been doing some reading, you may have begun to wonder, "Can you deliver in any position you want at a hospital?" Experts say this is your show and you should be able to labor in whatever position you damn well please.
"As long as you don't have an epidural or other medical reason, you can give birth in any position that feels right to your body," Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and Fellow of American College of Childbirth Educators (FACCE) Deena Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education tells Romper in an email interview. "Even with an epidural, you can birth using the squat bar or side-lying as opposed to on your back. Birthing positions don't change with regards to birth location."
Blumenfeld says women can stand, be on their hands and knees, squat, sit, side-lie, or use any other position that is best for them, regardless of their location of birth — that means even hospitals should be able to accommodate your birthing position of choice.
"Any position that is gravity-positive is better for birth," she says. "Being on your back means working against gravity." In fact, Blumenfeld points out, Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #5 states that women should "Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push."
"That said, the word 'allow' has no place in birth," she says. "You pay your doctor or midwife to do a job."
According to What To Expect, what was once considered standard, the lying down position has proven to be the least effective way to give birth. "Instead, expectant mothers are encouraged to labor any way in which they feel comfortable, change positions as often as they like, and deliver in positions far different from that flat-on-the-back pose," the website noted.
Instead, women are encouraged to learn about positions that allow gravity to support the labor process. Fit Pregnancy recommends several different positions, including a standing supported squat, walking, side-lying, squatting, and leaning or kneeling forward with support.
Giving Birth With Confidence also pointed out that a hospital bed can be a useful tool during labor. For example, in a semi-sitting position, you can sit in the bed in a raised position with your legs open butterfly style which will help keep your pelvis open. Leaning on the bed for support while standing, and squatting while using a squat bar, are also helpful laboring positions that incorporate a hospital bed, according to the site.
The truth is, the myth of only laboring on your back is right up there with C-sections being the easy way out and your second labor being easier than your first. If your doctor or midwife can't accommodate your birthing position of choice, then it's time to research your options. Because ultimately, the way in which you choose to labor and give birth should be your decision. As Blumenfeld points out, you have the power and control. "It's your body," she says. "There is no 'if I'm allowed to ...'"
The short of it: Pushing a human being out of your body is a big freaking deal and no one should tell you how to do so. I mean, they can go ahead and try it, but they've been warned, right?
And hell hath no fury like a woman in labor.
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