At last the time has come to drive to the hospital. You climb in the car and instinctively know that leaning back in that bucket seat while you sit to ride to the hospital is NOT going to be fun. Each contraction is intensified without being more productive. You are so glad to be able to get out of the car. You get on your feet and instinctively lean forward, drop your knees a bit and sway gently with the contraction that hit as soon as you stood up. Strong but doable you tell yourself.
Next stop the emergency room doors and waiting for a wheel chair to take you to your room. Now they want you to sit in a chair and wait for a chair. The idea of not having to walk sounds inviting as your labor hormones are coming on strong and making you feel drifty but the actuality is something very different. Labor sensations while in a wheel chair moving forward causes your head to swim and you grip the arms of the chair causing tension through your neck and back intensifying your pain. The pressure of the seat on your bottom causes you to lift one cheek and list to one side. Too late you realize walking would have been much better than this. You traded in your feelings of competency and confidence in exchange for a quicker way to access the privacy of your birth room because you have a strong desire to be away from the bright lights and staring eyes of strangers.
You finally arrive at the room where you will meet your baby face-to-face and there it is; the bed. It's presence dominates the room. Next to it stands all the technology money can bring to birth; fetal heart monitor, contraction monitor, computer, read out screens, audio controls, blood pressure reader, oxygen saturation tester, IV pole with computerized medication administration box attached, in other words, all "the machines that go beep". Still it is the bed that seems to suck the life out of your idea of an active birth; an instinctual birth. Your nurse cheerily asks you to pee in a cup and climb into the bed. So after all that walking, and sitting, and rocking, and kneeling what should you say or do?
U.S. mothers are faced with this dilemma every day or more likely night. How should you handle this moment. It will be the opening moment in the long negotiation of your birth. If you have already had a baby and experienced that moment what DID you do? How do you feel about it now? Would you do it again?
This is the theme for July's Positive Birth Movement; the hospital bed's impact on your birth. PBM started in Great Britain and is spreading around the world. I am proud to be the SLO facilitator. We will be discussing the topic of labor beds from many different angles at my coffee & conversation in July.
It is important for modern American women to fill their mind with images of many possible birthing positions. Positions that can be done in or out of a hospital bed. How many different positions do you see portrayed in this short film? Notice how many different ways one may "squat". How deep the squat is, how far apart her feet are set, whether or not she is rounding or arching her back, pushing her feet against something or someone, or pulling on something all make the physics and body mechanics different. <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0J5xlBmJHTI?list=PL197D9817EDD8A137" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
For anyone to make the general statement that squatting causes babies to descend too rapidly or causes tearing isn't educated enough about squatting to see all the many nuances that can be obtained. <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q3wbuDSio74?list=PL197D9817EDD8A137" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Many of our doctors and nurse midwives are comfortable with mothers moving into a variety of laboring positions but once the mother is in the pushing phase still desire to take over and control the process by moving her into positions they, the care providers, are most comfortable in regardless of the mothers instincts or desires. In which of these birth positions do you think your care provider will be comfortable catching? Which ones will he or she have ever done? <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HiCgDlxdmPI?list=PL197D9817EDD8A137" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
In many ways I see the pushing phase of labor as the final frontier of the struggle I have been part of for so many years; the struggle to return birth to the birthing woman. As a doula the hospital labor bed represents the Berlin Wall that stands between women and their innate abilities. It is long past time to “Tear down this wall!”