Squatting has been used for childbirth since ancient times as it is the natural, instinctive way for women to birth their babies.
However, from Victorian times until the later part of the twentieth century, women in western countries were usually required to deliver their babies lying on their backs, a position which can make birth more difficult.
The story goes that Louis XV1 wanted to see the birth of his son and asked the obstetrician if he could place the queen (Marie Antoinette) on her back with her legs extended so as to facilitate this. The obstetrician realised that this position made things easier for him as well; he didn’t have to stoop down and look up at the women.
So this practise continued with most obstetricians then picking up on the practise. Victorian times it was also considered unnatural and immodest to deliver in any other way.
Women today however, tend to be more fortunate, with better education and a better understanding of the whole birthing process.
In New Active birth, Janet Balaskas gives important reasons why squatting is recommended- for both mother and baby- during pregnancy and birth.
Squatting is closest to nature’s laws and is known as the physiological position. A position is physiologically effective:
- When there is no compression on the vena cava and the aorta
- When the pelvis becomes fully mobilised supported squatting seems to be especially efficient at the end of the second stage when the baby is being born.
The squatting position produces:
- Maximum pressure inside the pelvis
- Minimum muscular effort
- Optima relaxation of the perineum
- Optimal foetal oxygenation
- A perfect angle of decent in relation to gravity.
The Benefits of squatting:
|1||Your hips become more flexible and your lower back muscles are toned and stretched.|
|2||Squatting may help reduce the curve in your back and reduces pressure on the discs of your spine as your pelvis is tilted upwards.|
|3||For lower back pain and sciatica in the last trimester excellent relief can be gained from either the full squat postures or modified forms of the squat.|
|4||Helps with both constipation and haemorrhoids.|
|5||Helps hold your spinal column straight so that your internal organs are not congested. This will also increase circulation to your abdominal organs.|
|6||The uterine and pelvic floor muscles are strengthened and toned.|
|7||The muscles of your thighs, knees, calves and ankles are exercised and your feet get a massage. Circulation is improved to your lower limbs and to your pelvic area. Stiffness can be removed from your legs and hips.|
|8||The risk of uterine prolapsed may be lessened due to toning of the pelvic floor and inner thigh muscles. These muscles support your uterus, bladder and other pelvic organs.|
|9||During labour, the pelvis becomes more vertical which may help you birth your baby with more ease. Uterine surges may be less intense.|
|10||During the second stage of labour, while in a squat position, pelvic diameters may be increased by as much as 2cm or 28 per cent.|