Why Do Women Give Birth On Their Backs
In a previous article we discussed why women give birth in positions other than their preferred one. The reason being that they are not comfortable giving birth on their backs. Now let’s consider why do women give birth on their backs?
The answer lies within the purpose of childbirth. It may seem odd but the truth is that midwives and doctors have different roles during pregnancy and birth. Midwives focus on providing care for mother, baby and family as well as attending births; whereas doctors’ main responsibility is to attend births and provide medical treatment. In this way, midwives and doctors do not work together until the time arrives for the doctor to take over from the nurse-midwife.
Midwives’ role begins when the woman becomes pregnant. They will then be responsible for ensuring that your health remains stable throughout the duration of your pregnancy. This includes monitoring your weight gain and nutrition intake, assessing your overall physical state, examining your urine and cervix each month to check if you’re progressing normally with your pregnancy, and making sure that any abnormalities or complications arising are detected early so that corrective action can be taken immediately.
When it comes to checking your cervix, midwives use a tool called the Bishop’s Score which measures the softness of the cervical mucus and how easy it is to pass urine. A score between 0 and 4 indicates a high likelihood of preterm labour while anything above 6 means there is less chance of premature contractions occurring. Midwives also examine the length of your cervix to see whether it has reached its full dilated size. If it hasn’t, they would recommend pain relief medication such as Pitocin (also referred to as “the hospital drug”) and oxytocin to help stimulate contractions. These medications are used to trigger the uterus to contract and expel the foetus through the vagina. However, these drugs need to be administered under strict guidelines by trained professionals only.
Doctors’ roles begin once midwifery services are no longer needed. Doctors are responsible for conducting examinations and diagnosing problems relating to the female reproductive system. Once you’re in active labour, the doctor takes over from the midwives and checks your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature levels using thermometers. He or she will also measure contractions by timing them every 30 minutes or so to assess if they are strong enough to prompt labour.
It is important to note that both nurses and doctors aim to deliver babies safely and quickly. This is achieved by starting the process of birth before the cervix reaches its fully dilated stage. This ensures that the pushing phase starts sooner rather than later. Therefore, even though a doctor is usually more experienced at handling births, he or she cannot perform an emergency caesarean section without prior training.
Now let’s look at what happens after the first push occurs. According to recent research, the majority of women who gave birth vaginally started out lying on their back. Only after 5 cm of dilation did they start trying to turn themselves onto their sides. After 10cm of dilation, 85% had turned on their side. At 15cm of dilation, 75% were already on their side. By 20cm of dilation, 65% were on their side and at 25cm of dilation 50% were already on their side. What does this mean?
According to nurse-midwives, the primary reason why women give birth on their backs is because they find it difficult to turn on their sides due to weakness caused by prolonged second stages of labour. As opposed to women who give birth naturally, some women who have undergone surgical sterilisation find turning on their sides uncomfortable because the pelvic muscles are no longer contracting. So, instead of turning on their stomachs, they choose to lie down on their backs.
Another reason why women who’ve given birth surgically find it hard to turn on their sides is because they don’t know how to move around in bed properly. Many postpartum beds are designed in such a way that you can’t roll over comfortably unless you lift yourself up into a sitting position. This makes it impossible for many new mothers to change positions freely.
If you want to try lying on your side to ease discomfort of having a vaginal delivery, make sure you get a bed that allows you to roll easily. Some hospitals allow their patients to rotate positions occasionally according to their comfort level without lifting themselves.
A final point to remember is that although most women choose to give birth on their backs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the best option for them. Remember that everyone’s body is unique and responds differently to stimuli. You should therefore consult your healthcare provider about your preferences regarding the type of birth you’d like to experience.
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