Written by Julia Hagedorn, volunteer midwife from Germany
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world!” -Nelson Mandela-
In February the awesome Shanti midwives attended my workshop about birth positions. The staff was keen to get more knowledge about one of the most effective “exercises” you can use during labor, to support the women of Uganda. For me, it was a great experience to share ideas and wisdom of midwifery. We had a lot of fun practicing positions, antenatal massage, and Rebozzo, a Mexican technique that helps mum and baby during labor.
First we started with some questions. Why is it important to offer a choice of position during birth? What are the positive
effects of “getting the mum out of the bed”? What are the most important powers of birth? Luckily we had two pregnant women at Shanti, so we had two volunteers to practice the new knowledge on. The moms enjoyed the massages and got an idea of how they can move when rushes are coming.
Sitting outside in the beautiful Shanti garden in the morning, listening to the singing birds, we learned how breathing with a “loose mouth and tongue,” and moving the pelvic can help women to have an empowering and positive birth experience. Giving birth in an upright position is not common in Africa, so I was so proud of midwife Cathy when she told me some weeks after our workshop that she attended a birth in kneeling position. She loved it and described it as a very “easy and smooth” birth. Change is possible with education, so let`s keep on learning and spreading our message around!
Labor is an active process. The woman needs to find a good balance between moving around and getting some rest.
WHY are free movement and an upright birth positions benefits for the laboring woman?
*prevent distress of the baby (blood flow in the uterus is working better)
*prevent tears and episiotomy
*less drugs needed
*your tool to speed labor or to slow it down if needed
*the contractions work more efficiently in upright positions
*contractions, gravity and the pressure of the abdominal muscles work together
*the movement of the pelvic bones opens the way the baby has to go through, so it makes it easier for the baby to descent
*it is empowering. Women are able to do their own decisions and create their birth. She is the boss. It makes her feel comfortable and as if she is in charge of her birth, not the people around her!