Squatting with a childbirth squat bar or birth companion for support is beneficial as a birth position in that it opens the pelvis while using gravity to encourage the baby to descend. This can also shorten the pushing phase of labor by helping the baby drop as far as possible without conscious effort. This position is not recommended for the early stage, or first stage of labor, but rather for the pushing phase. Once the mother feels the urge to push or squat, it's a reliable indicator that the baby has descended past the pelvic inlet and is ready to be born.
It isn't necessary to maintain this position through the whole pushing phase, but rather to help the mother into this position during contractions or when her body tells her this is what she needs. A correct squatting position is achieved when the mother bends her hips and brings her rear close to the floor while keeping her feet flat on the floor or bed. This can be difficult for a mother in that it requires balance and can be a strain on her leg muscles. For this reason, a birth companion or two may be enlisted for support.
The vertical supported squat requires a birth companion. To assume this position, the birth companion must be positioned well above the mother, such as on a counter or bed with their legs resting on chairs or other means of stabilization. The mother rests her arms over the companion's legs and allows the rest of her body to rest in a loose squat. Her weight is completely supported by the birth companion.
This position uses gravity to maximize the effectiveness of each contraction while minimizing the mother's effort. The pelvis is also widened by any squat position. It also stretches the mother's torso, which increases the vertical space for the baby. This position is especially effective in realigning a baby that is resting in an asynclitic position, or in which the head is tilted to one side instead of positioned squarely in the middle of the cervix.
For a hospital birth, the mother may have access to a childbirth squat bar, which is attached over the end of the bed. The mother squats above the bed while grasping the bar for support. If one isn't available, then a birth companion can support each leg while she squats.
A birthing stool is a viable option to a childbirth squat bar. This is a short, u-shaped stool. The woman sits upon it, which puts her body into a squatting position while supporting her weight.
Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE
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