Category Archives: Your Birth Right

Know your options – maternal positions in labor and birth

 

Back to bed is the only way to go for newborns but not for pregnant mamas! More times than not in most health facilities in the US women labour in bed. While this is convenient and necessary for some mamas with complications studies have suggested that there may be adverse effects on labor progress, uterine contraction and placental blood flow. It is however evidenced that upright and walking positions reduces the need for epidural, length of labor, and risk for cesarean birth. Upright and walking position have not been shown to be associated with adverse effects to mothers’ and infants’ wellbeing or an increase for interventions. Based on these facts, it is recommend that mamas in low-risk labor  be informed of the benefits of upright positions, and encouraged and supported to assume the position(s) of their choice.

Why does being mobile and upright in labor help, simply put GRAVITY!!! Gravity aids in the fetal head moving into the pelvis. As the fetal head is applied to the cervix the regularity, strength and frequency of contractions are intensified aiding in cervical dilation and fetal decent. Being mobile and upright in labor also aids in the “good stuff” getting to baby (ie. appropriate placental perfusion and fetal oxygenation). When laying flat on your back the uterus has the potential to compress important abdominal blood vessels negatively affecting maternal circulation and blood flow to baby. When the maternal circulation is compromised  this can in turn effect maternal and fetal status and labor progression. In addition, mobility and position changes in labor is a pain management technique which support the natural physiologic process.  Evidence shows that women who are upright and ambulatory during labor have a shorter duration of labor, are more likely to have a vaginal birth, are less likely to have a operative birth, less likely to have a cesarean birth, less likely to have an epidural, and neonate less likely to have admission to the NICU.

“Women need to feel that they can labor in a supportive environment that decreases their fear of pain by supporting their ability to cope with the pain of labor, including having the freedom to walk, move, and change position throughout labor.”

Gravity also plays a role during birth.  Kneeling, squatting and standing all take advantage of gravity to assist mamas in delivery of the baby. Side-lying, semi-reclining, hand-and-knees do not take advantage of gravity but provide increased relaxation and allows mamas to rest effectively between contractions. For those having back pain, especially due to positioning of the baby, hands-and-knees position provides relief and maximizes the dimensions of the pelvis like standing or squatting. When birthing in the side-lying posing the decent of the presenting part is slowed reducing perineal tearing.

Throughout labor and birth, mamas benefit from frequent position changes. Ideally, mama’s positioning should be self-determined. Be knowledgeable about your birth rights, ask questions when not clear, and make informed choices about your birth!

 

DiFranco, J. T., & Curl, M. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #5: Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back and Follow Your Body’s Urge to Push. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4), 207–210. http://doi.org/10.1891/1058-1243.23.4.207

 

Lawrence, A., Lewis, L., Hofmeyr, G. J., Dowswell, T., & Styles, C. (2009). Maternal positions and mobility during first stage labour. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2), CD003934. Advance online publication. http://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003934.pub2

 

Ondeck, M. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #2: Walk, Move Around, and Change Positions Throughout Labor. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4), 188–193. http://doi.org/10.1891/1058-1243.23.4.188

 

 

Birth Your Way

“We experience birth so differently from the intimate spaces of our bodies and minds, it feels disingenuous to strike comparisons and place value judgments. Any woman who experiences the vulnerability of carrying a child in her body (or heart) and bringing it earthside is heroic in my estimation. This idea that there is a special medal danging on the tree for going without meds makes us undervalue ourselves and depreciate the ordeals we have endured. Loss moms, adoptive moms, cesarean birth mothers…We all open. We all tear, somewhere (body, heart, soul). We all both wildly embrace and struggle to embrace these experiences. It all takes courage and that courage is always worth celebrating.”  — Rachel Lorena Brown 

 

All to often we find ways to divide ourselves and our birth stories are no exceptions. We tell each other that if you had a pregnancy loss you are not a mother, if you chose pain medications you are weak, if you had a cesarean section you are a failure. We have all endured in our own way and do not deserve negative talk. We should instead find solace in our fellow POWERHOUSES, celebrate and support one another along each of our journeys for the road will be filled with enough obstacles.

For my POWERHOUSEs who chose to have a natural birth, thank you for continuing to remind us how strong and capable we are.

 

For my POWERHOUSEs whose precious gift was taken to soon, I keep you in my prayers. May you find comfort and healing with each new day. I exalt you for caring on.

 

For my POWERHOUSEs who chose to exercise your right to have pain medication I honor your choice.

 

For my POWERHOUSEs who carry the surgical scar of motherhood I applaud your bravery.

 

Our bodies and our memories will forever hold our stories. Your body is beautiful in every way!

 

To all my mothers and those trying to conceive, I SALUTE You!

Finding Your Voice

I have been told that “finding your voice” is one of the most important tasks when establishing the brand for your organization. I asked myself, how do you find your voice when so often we have been rendered voiceless. As a woman, mom, midwife and a minority I am passionate about all women and young ladies knowing and believing that they are beautiful, strong, and powerful beyond belief. This beauty, strength, and power comes from within and is outwardly expressed in how we care for our bodies and love the ones who have been entrusted to us. As a midwife it is my life’s goal to make a significant impact on lowering the infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rate within the United States and across the world. The voice of My Body Is Beautiful is to echo the voices of women and young ladies as they navigate caring for their bodies, pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting. It is our goal to empower them through education, mentorship, and advocacy; build a national network of support groups; and aid in lowering the infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rate through community engagement, information, and social action so that women can make informed decisions about their care.

I hope you carry with you this thought, “Our bodies are an amazing and complex asset, we are the most dynamic POWERHOUSE there is! We are capable, we are equipped, and we have been powering life since creation.”