By Perinatal Exercise Specialist, Denise Weber
Squatting is one of the most advantageous positions for labor and birth. Women the world over have used it for centuries, yet it is much less commonly practiced in the United States.
In times past, women relied more on their bodies, and less on intervention, with midwives guiding them through the process of labor and birth. “Prehistoric figures and ancient Egyptian drawings show women giving birth in the sitting or squatting position. Midwives and birthing stools are also mentioned in the Old Testament.” 1
So why squat?
Labor has been compared to an athletic event, and an athlete prepares for the event with specific exercises geared to improve the outcome. The exercises are done for weeks or months, depending on the event, strengthening the muscles needed, and increasing endurance. There is no last minute “cramming,” as this could certainly lead to injury. Squatting is one such exercise specific to pregnancy.
Done correctly during pregnancy, squatting can have many benefits that prepare our bodies for labor and birth.
Increase leg strength.
Stretch the muscles of the inner thighs.
Increase mobility of the pelvic joints and hips.
Relax the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Alleviate back pain and pressure.
Improve pelvic circulation.
During Labor, squatting encourages proper positioning of the baby, and can help bring the head in contact with the cervix, thus increasing the strength of the contractions. It aids gravity and encourages dilation of the cervix.
Squatting during birth has been shown to shorten the duration of time spent pushing, Yeah!! Because it shortens the birth canal, and helps to relax and open the pelvic floor muscles. It can also help encourage the “urge to push,” if it is lacking.
1. The start of Life: A history of Obstetrics, J. Drife, January, 2002
Always check with your doctor before you begin any exercise regime. In certain instances, squatting can be contraindicated or need modifications. Women with bad knees or varicosities should talk to their caregiver before practicing squats. Sitting on a stability ball or a stool can modify the position of a squat Sitting on the stability ball has the added benefit of alleviating pressure on the pelvic floor if vaginal varicosities are an issue.
Denise Weber teaches various prenatal and postnatal classes. She is available for Personal Training, private and semi-private. Do you have a group of friends you would like to take a prenatal or postnatal class with but nothing is scheduled? No problem! Small group classes can be arranged.
For a list of classes available at Club Fit Briarcliff.
For information on Prenatal and Postnatal classes at our Jefferson Valley location or contact Tricia Weinbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!