Don’t take it lying down – evidence on birth positions

When you think of a woman having a baby and the position she assumes, what do you see? The evidence will surprise you…

When you think of a woman having a baby and the position she assumes, what do you see?
I’d always imagined what I saw portrayed in movies* and TV shows* – a woman labouring and pushing on her back. But is this the ideal birthing position?

The majority of Australian women (78%), do indeed assume this position when giving birth to bubs, but when you look at the evidence to suggest this isn’t the optimal position for labour, why the disconnect? Of course, labour and pregnancy alike are exhausting, and I love nothing more than kicking my feet up (not pregnant!) at any given moment, so I see how women gravitate towards the bed…but what does the evidence for everything but the bed, show?

In 2012, a Cochrane study, Gupta et. al was undertaken assigning 7,200 women into two groups; upright positions for birth (birthing stool, kneeling, squatting, all-fours) and non-upright positions for birth (semi-lying, lying down with bed head up, side-lying or in lithotomy (on your back, legs a part) .

When comparing the two groups, the women assigned to upright positions were:

The result of this study concluded that women, without an epidural, should be encouraged to birth in upright positions due to the decreased risk of assisted deliveries (vacuum-assisted or forceps and episiotomy).

When breaking it down logically, being in an upright position – gravity is on your side; the weight of baby and the position of baby is better applied to the cervix…stimulating contractions…helping bub descend and move through the pelvis. Hey Presto!

A midwifery professor, Hannah Dahlen, wrote an article on The Conversation a few years ago, Stand and deliver- upright births best for mum and bub, that looked into why so many women in Australia, do indeed recline to have their babies. The short and simple may indeed be birthing unit design. Like most hospital rooms, the bed takes prime position (pretty convenient for the Midwives and Doctors). To their defence, many women do receive admission CTGs…so immediately they head on over to the bed, get comfy, and then…well 78%…

Being armed with the knowledge of positions to assume in labour, to help bubs work their way down, to relieve back pain etc., is worth investigating. Again, it comes down to what you want, so why not spice things up and try a few, this way you will find out what works for you.

 

e3459e38009cab836a7b6f0c362bdb26

*Movies – Knocked Up, Father of the Bride II, Nine Months, Juno, What to Expect When You’re Expecting

*TV shows – Offspring, Love Child

Exercising Pregnant

Is it safe? How intensely can I exercise? What exercise in pregnancy friendly? We’ve got all the answers here!

Working out with a Bub on board boils down to the fact that exercise, whether you feel like it or not, is good for you (and Bub).

Research has shown that exercising throughout pregnancy helps to reduce headaches, anxiety, constipation, back pain, pelvic pain as well as increase your energy levels throughout pregnancy, plus it’s likely to wear you out, hopefully allowing you to sleep better during the night…meaning, more rest before Bub arrives…who doesn’t want that?!

Of course, there are going to be days where you just want to vege out on the couch, and that’s totally fine – try and plan out your week with some exercise in mind and stick to it. You’ll feel better off for it!

Below I’ve answered some of the common questions I hear antenatally from women about exercise.

Is it safe? Yes! For the majority of women exercise is safe in pregnancy, it’s actually encouraged. The Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health (2014) suggests daily exercise may reduce chances of problems cropping up in your pregnancy. Speaking to your health care provider (Midwife, ObGyn, GP) about what’s best for you, is your best bet.

How intensely should I exercise and for how long? Ideally, it’s to a point where you increase your heart rate and begin to sweat. You should still be able to talk whilst exercising (moderate exercise for 30 mins, is fab!) If you’ve never been one to exercise, take it slow and steady…and make sure you warm up. Walking before you get into whatever exercise you are doing that day is really important- no pulling any muscles please, your body is doing enough already! Oh, and take a water bottle- if you’re thirsty, Bub is too.

What sort of exercise is pro pregnancy?

– Walking
– Low impact aerobics
– Prenatal Yoga (make sure you’re in a class with small numbers, it’s important that you are in a class where your movements can be observed clearly by the instructor)
– Swimming is ideal in pregnancy, and you can totally practice your nice long deep breaths (great for labour!) …and it’s no impact- bonus!
– Dancing is not only great for the soul, but a great and fun way to exercise whilst pregnant. Zumba anyone?!
– Weights (light weights- and make sure you’re supervised!)
– Later in pregnancy, rowing machines and bikes at the gym can be a great option.

What to keep in mind If you’re not feeling 100% or something in your gut is saying, “take it easy today”, then take it easy- no one is going to judge you. You’re growing a human- it’s hard work!

What exercise should you steer clear of? Contact sports are a no go. These exercises put you and Bub at risk:

– Skiing
– Hockey
– Anything involving horses
– Altitude training as well as scuba diving
– Heavy weight lifting

It really is a common sense thing. If you’re at all confused or not sure whether a type of exercise is a good idea, ask a health professional that knows your pregnancy history.

When shouldn’t I exercise? If you’ve been advised not to or have pre-existing conditions that make exercising more risky. If in doubt, speak to a healthcare professional.

Who should I speak to about exercise? Your midwife, ObGyn or GP

Happy Exercising! xx

References:

Exercise in Pregnancy- The Australian Family Physician 2014

Exercise in Pregnancy- The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health

%d bloggers like this: