Last month, I published an article about the evidence for various pushing positions. The best quality medical evidence shows that women should push in whatever position is comfortable for them. Some moms find that upright pushing positions are more comfortable. However, only a small minority of women in the U.S. (4%) give birth in upright positions.
Erin, a first-time mom from Ohio, shares her testimonial about how she found a care provider who supported her desire to push in an upright position.
What kinds of positions did you push in?
I was able to labor in many positions – for me the most comfortable was on my hands and knees with my head down – similar to the yoga “downward dog” position, but with my knees on the bed. I tried to labor while standing, but baby’s head was pushing against something down there and that hurt a bunch! Being on my hands and knees really helped to alleviate that pain. When it came time to push, I went with what felt natural to my body. In a previous life I trained in weight lifting. Squatting is very natural to me, so squat I did! Squatting is great because it opens up the hips. Also, because I was squatting while pushing, I was in the perfect position to help catch baby. Rosalie was able to take to breastfeeding right after she was born. Jared, my husband, was a great coach and labor partner!
How did your care provider react to your desire to push in upright positions?
My husband and I decided to change care providers at 36 weeks. I really enjoyed my first doctor, but I just had a feeling that I would not be given as much freedom as we were looking for in our birth experience. At the recommendation of friends and family who are nurses, we looked into the Family Beginnings Birthing Center located inside Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. There are two practices in Dayton that see patients who would like to give birth at Family Beginnings. They were willing to take me on at 36 weeks because we had made the decision to birth at Family Beginnings. These docs are great. They are supportive of what moms would like to do. At one point I asked my doc what her role would be during birth. She replied that she would just be checking in occasionally, but that for the rest of the time it would be just me and hubby in the room working to labor.
There are three docs at the practice. I saw one during labor. He stopped in and asked how it was going. We said great and he left. The next time I saw a doc was when he was there to deliver baby. We were at the hospital for about 6 hours before baby was born. During that time a nurse would come and check baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler but I only remembered her checking about 3-4 times. Needless to say the docs and nurses were very supportive of whatever position we felt comfortable with for pushing.
What advice would you give to other women about pushing positions?
The biggest recommendation I can give is to find a care provider that is willing to work with you. You want to have the support of your birth team during labor and pushing. If you feel that your care provider is not going to be supportive it is totally okay to shop around and find a new one. I would also recommend that moms and dads get informed about the options that are available. We took a Bradley Method class and loved learning about all of the options that were available. Knowing why care providers run certain tests and why they might make different suggestions was invaluable information.
Finally, I would encourage women to find what positions work for you. I tried a bunch of positions before we went into labor, but found that only two really worked for me. Having a support person (my husband Jared) who had gone through the birthing class with me was also great. When I couldn’t think straight he was there to help me out!
Thank you, Erin, for sharing your story! Do any of you have any tips on how to figure out ahead of time whether your care provider will encourage you to push in whatever position is most comfortable for you?
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