Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally , “women have easier labors and births when they move about and assume upright positions… There is more than sufficient evidence that upright birth positions – kneeling, sitting, standing, and squatting – are more advantageous to both mother and child.”
My own experience certainly agrees, as I found movement to be invaluable during both of my labors. I labored with my firstborn for about 16 hours, bouncing on an exercise ball and singing along to music during the early stages and then, as things progressed, standing up for each contraction and pulling on a doorframe. During the couple hours of passive descent, I laid down to rest in between contractions but was compelled to stand up each time a contraction approached. When the urge to push finally came, I squatted on the floor, pushed a few times, and out she came.
My second labor was much different, with my son being born just 2 hours and 15 minutes after my first contraction. It was the middle of the night, but it felt imperative for me to stand up and walk around between contractions, and then lean on a counter while moving my hips around and moaning during contractions. Things progressed quickly, and I very soon needed to wake up my husband so I could lean on him during each contraction. The apprentice midwife was the first to arrive, and I felt my first urge to push just after her arrival. She requested that I lie down to slow things down while we waited for the midwife to arrive. Lying down made the contractions seem much harder to handle, even as I lay with my husband for encouragement and support. As soon as the midwife arrived, I toddled to the bathroom and my son was born in a couple pushes while I squatted over the toilet.
Overall, movement really helped me feel like I was going with the flow of labor. Moving around helped me tremendously, and I cannot imagine having been confined to a bed. Active birth “is the way that a woman behaves when she is following her own instincts and the physiologic logic of her body. It is a way of saying that she herself controls her body while giving birth, rather than being the passive recipient of a birth that is managed by her attendants… An active birth is instinctive. It involves your giving birth quite naturally and spontaneously through your own will and determination, having the complete freedom to use your body as you choose and to follow its urges” .
It is no wonder so many women seem to feel the labor is too intense and out of control; if they could only get up and move with the flow of energy in their bodies, they could labor much more on their own terms.
1. Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally, Janet Balaskas, 1992, pp. 1-3, 13.