Shaunacy King, BD, CBE & Director for Doula Training Canada


One of the my earliest Doula memories is from taking the Dancing for Birth program with the fantabulous Stephanie Larson.  In her program she discussed how elephant mothers do not lie on their back, with their feet in the air, awaiting the birth of their elebabies.

Over time I have taken this image with me and used to ask…

Have you ever seen a dog in labour, lying on its back with its legs straight up in the air?  No!  How about a cat?  A horse? A cow? Ok, ok…. how about any mammal?

The answer is a definitive NO WAY!

What is with the history and expectation that human women should labour and birth while lying down?  Blasphemy I say!

Nature dictates that it is most comfortable for animals (including human animals) to labour standing up, so that gravity and motion can work to facilitate progression and comfort.

Comfort?!  How is that possible you might ask.  Well, there is comfort in knowing that you are in control of your body.  That if you use motion and gravity to open the hips and bring the baby down that this experience (ahem, the fun of labour) could be over more quickly.

Paulina Perez in “The Nurturing Touch at Birth” states it perfectly when she write “changing positions frequently is a very important labour support technique.  Changing positions frequently and using positions such as standing, walking, and hands-and-knees stimulates the joint receptors, which are large receptors that adapt slowly but are also slow to habituate.  Usually the mother changes positions spontaneously,”  (pg. 100).  In other words…. SCIENCE tells us that moving around isn’t just a comfort technique, but that it is necessary.

Encourage your clients to get their birth bottoms shaking, moving and grooving.  And if none of those ideas seem to resonate here are some other suggestions:

Stair climbing
Hands and knees

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