Why lying down birth? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 04:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I'm informing myself as much as I can and really enjoying my pregnancy and now lots of little kicks and rolling.
Maybe this is a silly question but who (or why) was lying down invented for birth? Doesn't that work against gravity?
(I've been having dreams of birthing standing up or kneeling but all my pregnancy dreams have been interesting.
I am writing a birth plan, and have a mid-wife for a hospital birth. However, I think I may have to kick someone if they make me lie down. It makes my stomach turn for some reason just thinking about lying down. Is this intuition or just ???
I always put a lot of belief in my dreams and my "intuition" has never been "wrong".
I am just growing curious about the lying-down idea if that is still done or does it vary from each person? I understand everyone births differently but am just fascinated about this and wonder if this was an invention or a necessity to have women lie down historically and even scarier (for me anyway) with feet higher than hips?
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#2 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 04:56 AM
 
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Maybe this is a silly question but who (or why) was lying down invented for birth? Doesn't that work against gravity?
My midwife told me that it started with King Lois the something or other so could watch all his children being born while he sat on his throne (I don't know how true this is, but it sounds plausible.)

She is very opposed to lying down during the birth and said that the only people it's good for are those observing Go with your instincts and only lie down if you feel like it and get up any time you want.

HTH,
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#3 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 06:24 AM
 
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I lay down to push because I was TIRED. It had been a very long night and day of labor and I was wiped out.
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#4 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 08:45 AM
 
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It probably feels wrong to you because, mechanically speaking, it is wrong. Yes, the slope of your vagina will make you push "uphill" if you lie down. That being said, when it came time to push with my son I was too wiped out to get up, and with as big as he was I don't think I could have without a crane to help me, lol. Things go smoother in an upright position, let me tell ya, lol. As PP mentioned, thing lying down is really good for, is the convenience of everyone OTHER THAN the mother and baby, unless of course the mother is just plain sick of being upright and needs a rest for her legs and back.
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#5 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 09:28 AM
 
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It became the ladylike way to give birth after royalty started birthing this way. Later medical providers found that it was most convenient for them if the woman was on her back.

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born is an interesting book that goes into more detail.

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#6 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 03:01 PM
 
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With baby 2 I had read alot about gravity assisted birth, sitting up, kneeling, standing and intended to do so with her. Labor was pretty easy sitting, but it slowed. Kneeling caused babies heart to slow to around 30 and I hated that. We were already tired from a week of false labors and a start and stop labor earlier that weekend that stalled at 5cm then a solid day of walking to get it going again. The nurse said, "try lying down, it will make things move faster so we can get this tired baby out." If her heartbeat continued to slow like that then they would consider her in distress and I'd get a section. I didn't want to lay down cause I knew it would hurt more on my back, but baby's heartbeat fell again with a contraction so I did. Immediately the labor sped up and she was born extremely fast! Within 10min. It hurt like @#%^& but lying down did the trick. She was pretty bruised up too.

For me at least, lying down helped me avoid an emergency C-section.
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#7 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 03:11 PM
 
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Sometimes lying down is where a mama feels best, such as on her side. Sometimes even on the back I've heard of! I'd say much of the time it hinders but as you can see from above, definitely NOT all of the time. LizzyLou is pretty correct with her statement....and I've heard the King Louis story as well, though I'm not sure if it started with him or another one. Now a lot of times it's just more convienient for the doc.

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#8 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 03:13 PM
 
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I have to say, the only way I could birth last time was upright or on all fours, it hurt WAY to much to lie down or even semi recline.
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#9 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 03:28 PM
 
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I definitely had it in my head that I'd be upright giving birth with dd but when it came time to push, as said before, I was already exhausted! I ended up on my back, half reclined and I would just curl in (like doing crunches sort of) with each push which seemed to help it along. It's just the way it happened and it felt just fine at the time! My midwife told me the same story about the king something or other wanting to watch his children being born so I guess it became a silly status thing for awhile and then the medical professionals liked the idea too.

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#10 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 04:08 PM
 
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This is a really interesting thread, I had assumed that the flat on your back birth ritual was started at the advent of major pain medication- if you can't stand then you lay down, and if you are unconscious you are certainly laying down!
FWIW I had an epidural when I had my daughter but I was sitting up for the delivery and my legs were in squatting position though not supporting me. Also my MW never broke down the bed, so I was able to be in that semi squat position. No epidural this time and we'll see where I end up pushing this one out, I won't have a tub so my guess is they'll have a hard time getting me out of the shower!
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#11 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 04:08 PM
 
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That position is for the doctor's convenience and nothing else. Well, if you have an epidural you probably can't be in any other position as most women can't move themselves below the waist.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#12 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 04:22 PM
 
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That position is for the doctor's convenience and nothing else. Well, if you have an epidural you probably can't be in any other position as most women can't move themselves below the waist.
You know, this just isn't true of all epidurals. I had one and could certainly move my entire body and could even feel to push.

In response to the OP, I wasn't flat on my back to push, but reclined. It seemed to work fine. Which isn't to say that another position doesn't logically make more sense. Have you read Spiritual Midwifery? I really recommend it, the birth stories are terrific.

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#13 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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I think it's more for the doc's benefit than anything.
You wouldn't go to the bathroom (#2) laying down.
You sit/squat. Makes more sense to push the baby
out if you're in a squat, know what I mean?
But in that position, it's hard for doctor's to see
what's going on.
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#14 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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My sister feels that being over-encouraged to squat during her second labor contributed highly to an eventual epidural: she was managing fine, labor progressing fine, as long as she was lying down. But her doula wanted her squatting, as did her midwife and ob - basically everyone telling her what she *should* be doing rather than letting her listen to her own body. Everytime she squatted, she felt totally overwhelmed as labor grew much more intense, and eventually she said she couldn't stand the intensity anymore and opted for an epi, which she was really disappointed about after it was all over.

She's been very encouraging with me in making sure I should listen to myself before anyone else as I want to avoid an epi or any other intervention if possible, so I'm also going to do whatever feels right for me, whatever position that takes!
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#15 of 28 Old 04-18-2008, 11:38 PM
 
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her doula wanted her squatting, as did her midwife and ob - basically everyone telling her what she *should* be doing rather than letting her listen to her own body . . .She's been very encouraging with me in making sure I should listen to myself before anyone else as I want to avoid an epi or any other intervention if possible, so I'm also going to do whatever feels right for me, whatever position that takes!
I think this is a very important point. Listening to your body and not what others want is the most important factor when giving birth. There were times when I had to lay down and stand up and squat and . . . during my labor and pushing. I swear I went through every possible position there is. In the end DD decided to pop out when I had one leg up on the edge of the tub and DH and my midwife were helping me climb out It was kind of funny, because everyone had pretty much given up on seeing her any time "soon."
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#16 of 28 Old 04-19-2008, 12:59 AM
 
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Yep do whatever feels right... don't go in with preconceived notions of what is *right or wrong* your body will let you know A combination of positions at some point or another helped me the most.
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#17 of 28 Old 04-19-2008, 04:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=LoobyLoo;11022458]My sister feels that being over-encouraged to squat during her second labor contributed highly to an eventual epidural: she was managing fine, labor progressing fine, as long as she was lying down. But her doula wanted her squatting, as did her midwife and ob - basically everyone telling her what she *should* be doing rather than letting her listen to her own body. Everytime she squatted, she felt totally overwhelmed as labor grew much more intense, and eventually she said she couldn't stand the intensity anymore and opted for an epi, which she was really disappointed about after it was all over./QUOTE]

I guess it should be that we all listen if possible to what our bodies are telling us. It must be hard with others contradicting one during birth and telling them to do the opposite. Hmm. Lots to think about.

It must be then every birth is completely different. I am sure if I was tired I'd be lying down too or as suggested above a combination of positions. I guess I will have to wait to find out when it happens
Thanks for all the input everyone. I will keep reading about this.
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#18 of 28 Old 04-19-2008, 04:10 AM
 
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I will say that it's important to remember that your tailbone is a mobile thing and can really get in the way during birth if you are squishing it!

That said, with either birth I couldn't be anywhere but lying down to start pushing. For the last couple pushes, I was sitting upright (the foot of the hospital bed totally dropped down) and lifting myself off the bed with each push. Somehow the combination of letting gravity help and then settling back down as well as letting my strength of my arms count for something made a big difference.
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#19 of 28 Old 04-19-2008, 05:11 PM
 
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I think it depends on the person. I had no birth plan with my first, I just figured the baby would come however it wanted to and I would do whatever felt right. The midwives wanted me to labor in the tub, but honestly after working all week and having contractions all night I was too tired to support myself and got out and laid down. For the actual pushing part, the midwife had me in a sort of squatting position but I was so tired that she and my husband had to hold me up the whole time. I say do what feels right to you at the time. Every birth is different.

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#20 of 28 Old 04-20-2008, 10:42 AM
 
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I've read about that King story too. I think it was in Ina Mays book or maybe A Thinking Womans Guide. Anyway, it's mainly for the Dr's convenience and I don't think it benefits women at all unless it's something that feels comfortable for her. That has been the position most women give birth in for a long time now and I think most people don't even second guess it unless they really start to research, like you! With my first baby, I tried to go natural but wasn't prepared, got an intrathecal at 8 cms but was still able to push on my hands and knees. Of course, as soon as the baby was crowning, the Dr had me turn over to lithotomy and cut me a nice episiotomy! I was such a compliant patient that I didn't know I could say no! With this last baby, I hardly sat at all during labor. I spent most of it upright and on all fours. I had a hard time just sitting on the bed to get checked! I ended up giving birth standing up and not even pushing. She just barreled her way out! They asked if I wanted to squat but there was no way I would do that. It would have made everything too intense. So basically, just listen to your body. You will instinctivly know what will work best for you!! Good luck!
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#21 of 28 Old 04-20-2008, 11:29 AM
 
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go with what your body tells you.

I tried lying down (they say to rest in early labor) and it was excruciating! no lying for me in labor!
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#22 of 28 Old 04-20-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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I just listened to my body, but I have to admit I was surprised when I wanted to be lying on my left side to birth. I think that was what was best for my body, though, because 10 lb DD came out in less than 7 minutes of pushing with only a little skid mark where her elbow came out (nuchal hand). I think if I had been squatting like I had considered then she would have descended too fast and I may have torn. She was coming fast and the position my body wanted allow me to control it a bit more.

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#23 of 28 Old 04-20-2008, 07:57 PM
 
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Definitely remember that even for the same woman, every birth can be different. With my first baby, all I wanted to do during labor was sit and rock. With my second, sitting was excruciating, and I wanted to stand during labor. And pushing in a semi-reclined position actually felt best for me, especially since I was so tired.
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#24 of 28 Old 04-20-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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I'm pretty sure it started out (and is still done) for the doctor's convenience. Much easier for them to catch that way. I was NOT going to push in the lithotomy position for my first. But then I had to get in the bed to be "checked," and because I was progressing "too quickly" they laid me down on my back so I could get all the antibiotics and so my doc could get there on time.

When I was finally "allowed" to push, my doc asked me if I wanted to switch positions per my birth plan, but I was worn out and incapable of making a decision to move at that point, so I ended up with the ole stirrups. It didn't delay my labor at all (baby came out in one big swoosh), but I'm sure if I'd been in a different position, I would not have ended up with a 3rd degree tear. And if I hadn't had to climb into the stupid bed to begin with, I would never have been in that position to begin with.

So, my recommendation is that if you must be checked, insist that they do it wherever you happen to be, or if you do get in the bed, stay on your hands and knees instead of lying down. Don't let them "put" you in a position that you don't want to be in at any time.

During my homebirth, it never occurred to me to lie down. I stayed on my hands and knees. It was an even faster birth than my first, and I only had a teensy tiny tear.

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#25 of 28 Old 04-20-2008, 10:29 PM
 
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I totally knew that lying down was not physically the best way to give birth, it actually makes the vaginal opening smaller which increases your risk of tearing:. BUT it was the only comfortable position for me. I tried EVERYTHING else; hands and knees, stool, standing, side lying, but I had severe back labor and the only thing that even began to take the edge off was pushing my back into the inclined hospital bed. Many others tried using their hands to apply counter pressure but the bed just felt SOOO much better than what anyone else was doing. So I went with it and had the babe basically sitting up on my back. I did end up with some tearing, not too bad but more than I would have liked. But I did listen to my body and thats what it told me to do at the time.

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#26 of 28 Old 04-21-2008, 08:06 PM
 
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With my first, which was born in the hospital.....
They did not really give me much choice....they just told me what to do. They did not seem to care what was most comfy for me. Only more what was convient for them. They had me lay down(on a somewhat vertical bed) between contractions and roll to a sit up position with my legs in the stir ups while having a contraction. I did not like this method for many reasons. First off, it was more work for me and majorly uncomfortable(outside of working against gravity). I would have to hold on to the bed rail to be able to stay upright and doing so was causing the manditory iv that they installed to work its way out......which made them have to continuely put it back and tape my hand like a mummy (which did not please me, because I begged to not have the thing anyway!) I really do not think that this helped speed anything up.
Although with my sis in law, she had her baby at the same hospital but with a different dr and about 5 years later and they had her in all kinds of positions and let her use birthing balls and such. I never had those options!

With my second...
I did most of the contractions and stuff in a car ...... and when it got to where my body started pushing, I was not fond of sitting on the seat normal. I was barely even on the seat.....doubled over trying to keep from pushing. When I got to the birth center, I was so weak from trying not to have him that I could barely walk. They put me in the jacuzzi (if I remember correctly, I was just sitting with my legs bent beside me on the right and kind of leaning to my left side..this was my choice) but they told me not to push because the tub had not filled up yet (although they should have had that done....they knew I was coming). Well my body would not listen...hehe. So they moved me out and up to the corner edge (it was a corner tub). My body still continued to push. I was barely sitting there....my hiney was just on the edge with legs spread. This was a very easy way to birth and so with my next I planned on doing that....but.....

With my third..
I was planning my home water birth and planned on using a plastic lawn chair in the tub for me to birth with. But when it came down to the day....that did not sound the least bit enjoyable.....I wanted to be in the water......so I filled the tub and got in. I layed down in the water, keeping my head afloat by a inflatable pool ring...that worked great. I also had a beach ball there for when I wanted to sit up and I could relax on it. It worked great as well. Speaking of which, I need to get them ready!
When it came to actual pushing I did so on my knees (not all fours just my knees with legs spread) and I was resting on the beach ball. This worked really well for birthing too.

with this one, I am not using the bath tub, but a kiddie pool and I plan on having the good ol faithful pool toys around again. I will just birth however feels good at the time!
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#27 of 28 Old 04-21-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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It can help if the baby needs help getting out (mine had shoulder dystocia, and after every other position I could think of, I got in lithotomy so the EMT's could get her out) but in most normal births it's just inconvenient, especially if you're semi-reclined and sitting on your tailbone.

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#28 of 28 Old 04-22-2008, 10:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzylou View Post
It became the ladylike way to give birth after royalty started birthing this way. Later medical providers found that it was most convenient for them if the woman was on her back.

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born is an interesting book that goes into more detail.
I love that book, however gruesome.

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