I have been teaching prenatal yoga classes for a number of years now, and over this time have come to admire the almighty squat. Back in the day, we used to teach our mums that 100 pelvic floor lifts a day would help prepare them for the birth of their babies. Much has now been learnt about this topic.
A kegel, or pelvic floor lift, attempts to strengthen the pelvic floor muscle, but it really only seems to pull the sacrum inwards promoting even more weakness and more pelvic floor gripping. The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are called the gluteal muscles (glutes). A lack of glutes (no butt) is what makes this group of muscles so much more susceptible to pelvic floor disorder (PFD). Also, no lumbar curvature (curve at the small of the back) is the most telling sign that the pelvic floor is beginning to weaken.
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.