As your due date gets closer, you may wonder about your labor and delivery options. Should you lie on your side? Should you get on all fours? Or maybe you should just follow the traditional method of lying down. There’s no rule which says you must give birth flat on your back in a hospital bed. The truth is more people are choosing to labor in all sorts of positions, including a squatting position.
Squatting during delivery can be a great way to have a quick and easy labor. This is because the squatting position allows your baby to move straight true the birth canal during vaginal delivery.
This post discusses everything you need to know about the squatting position during delivery. Let’s get right into it!
Why the squatting position?
Squatting encourages your pelvis to open, reducing the pain during contractions, and giving your baby more room to pass through. This is the main reason why more women are opting for this position during delivery.
Benefits of squatting during labor
Choosing a squatting position during labor offers numerous potential benefits for both you and your baby.
These benefits include:
- Wider pelvic diameter which may ease delivery
- Reduced length of labor
- Reduced pain during contractions
- Less vulvar edema
- Fewer tears to the perineum
- An increased amount of oxygen is brought to the uterine muscles and baby.
- Fewer heart rate issues for the baby.
What are the downsides to the squatting position?
Although squatting can be promising for many women, it is not a position that can be easily maintained. Squatting can put a lot of pressure on your knees and back, which can become uncomfortable.
Another drawback of squatting is that, anatomically, this position is not favorable during delivery. Squatting pushes the baby’s head right into the pelvic bone, rather than letting the baby come from underneath.
Generally, experts say the effectiveness of squatting as a delivery option depends on the type of squat and whether it is done the right way.
Types of Squats
- Supported squatting
This involves moving into a deep squat position and using your birth partner, a chair, or a birthing ball for support. Thankfully, many hospitals know about the benefits of squatting during delivery, so there may be various tools available to help you get into this position.
However, if you have hip discomfort or if you don’t have an epidural, it is better to go for shallow squats when pushing.
- Lap squatting
This is another variation of the squat that is less strenuous and offers more rest. In this position, you allow your upper body to be supported by your birth partner in a hug. During contractions, your birth partner can move their legs further to allow your buttocks to drop.
This encourages pelvic floor muscle relaxation and opens your pelvis further. After a contraction, they can bring their legs back together for support as you rest before the next contraction.
- Dangle squatting
This position involves you draping your arms over your birth partner’s thighs and then lowering your body into a squat. The upside to this position is that it creates space in your pelvis and torso to allow the back to move, as gravity pushes your baby towards the birth canal to encourage labor. You should stand up in between contractions to avoid placing too much pressure on the nerves in your arms.
Keep in mind that it is important to follow the recommendations of your birthing team, as they’ll know what’s safest for you at each moment of your labor.
Tools that aid squatting
If you’re opting for a squatting position during delivery, some tools can help you assume the position correctly to ensure the effectiveness of the method.
Here are a few of those tools:
- Birth ball: a slightly larger version of a gym ball that allows you to sit or drape your body over the ball to assume a squatting position.
- Squat bar: This is a bar attached to the hospital bed to assist you with squatting during delivery.
- Birthing stool: this is a backless stool that has a cut-out in the middle of the seat that allows you to sit low and provide support while assuming the squatting position.
Who is eligible?
If you wish to give birth in the squatting position, it is recommended that you speak to a healthcare professional about your eligibility status. Squatting may not be for all women. For example, if you are looking to use an epidural during labor, it is not advisable to use the squat position. This is because an epidural may make it very difficult for you to stand or even squat on your own.
There are also other reasons why you may not be eligible for the squat position. Squatting during labor is not a good idea if:
- Your baby is showing signs of distress.
- You have certain conditions that make lying in a non-supine position unsafe for you or your baby.
Squat prep before delivery
A lot of women instinctively gravitate towards the squat position during labor. It just feels like the right thing to do. However, you may want to practice the proper technique before your delivery.
That way, you can ensure that you’ll be ready. As long as your healthcare professional gives you the go-ahead, squats are safe to do during pregnancy. You can see a pelvic floor physical therapist to discuss how you can incorporate squatting into your birth plans.
Birth is a marathon and involves adequate preparation. It is also important to know that all babies and mothers are different, so there’s no single ideal birthing position. The best thing to do is to try moving around and ease into a position that’s most comfortable for you.
Birthing in the squat position may reduce your pain and ease your delivery. However, you may prefer other birthing positions.
Speak to your healthcare provider about squatting and other birthing options so that they can recommend the safest option for you.