November 17, 2017
Here’s a Fun Fact Friday that might rock your world. Did you know that the position in which most women deliver in Western hospitals (lithotomy: on your back, legs elevated and spread) puts you at the most risk of a grade III or IV tear – which means tearing down to the anal sphincter – and this is especially seen in women who have had multiple deliveries? (Elvander et al 2015, n>113,000).
The theory is that the lithotomy position increases the pressure sensation in the perineal (between the legs) area, especially towards the anal sphincter, and decreases the woman’s ability to control her pushing, when compared with alternative positions. I could on & on about birthing positions and what’s appropriate for you based on your medical history, birthing history, and more — but I’ll save those for other days & posts.
Suffice it today that there is no “ideal” position for you during labor (listen to your body!), and you *do not* have to deliver laying flat on your back. So you should feel empowered to speak to your ob-gyn: ask them if they are up-to-date on the research on birthing positions!