Client just gave birth on birth stool.
homebirth, labor and delivery, tools of the trade

Tools of the Trade – Birth Stools

What is a birthing stool and why would I want to use one?

History of the Birthing Stool

A birthing stool

According to Wikipedia, birthing chairs or stools can be traced back as far as 1450 BC Egypt, 200BC Greece, and 100 BC Britain.  Asian, African, Pacific Islander, and Native American artwork has been found depicting women birthing upright in some kind of birthing chair or stool.  When birth became dominated by male physicians and was brought into hospitals, birthing flat on one’s back became popular.  Supine positions were more convenient for the birthing attendant.  When continuous fetal monitoring was brought into hospitals in the 1970’s, this position became necessary to be able to track the baby’s heartbeat without an attendant present. Many medical schools are not training their practitioners how to attend births of women in upright positions, so many obstetricians do not offer that as an option.

 

The Evidence

According to Evidenced Based Birth, upright birthing such as on a stool can employ gravity to help bring the baby down and out.  There is less risk of compressing the aorta which means better oxygen supply to the baby.  The uterus may contact more strongly and efficiently.  These things can help the baby get into better position to pass through the pelvic.  MRI studies show that back lying positions decrease the diameter of the pelvis.  Upright birth may also increase maternal satisfaction and lead to more positive birth experiences.  Studies also show:

  • 25% less likely for forceps or vacuum extractions
  • 25% less episiotomies
  • 54% less abnormal fetal heart rate

My Experience

Birthing stool

When I was a newer midwife, I found many of my clients were choosing to birth on the toilet.   They were finding that not only was that position more relaxing, gravity was helping bring babies down.  After a few scares about birthing a baby into the toilet, I bought my first birth stool. The stool to the right is the one used at the birth in the picture at the top.  Some of my clients choose to use the birthing stool, if they feel like they are pushing ineffectively. I may recommend it at times for clients for similar reasons.  There are a wide variety of birth stools on the market.  In the last couple years, I have purchased a 2nd stool. It is a vintage wooden stool that decorates my office.

Several types of birth stoolsDid you give birth in an upright position?  Did you use a stool or some other method?  Are you interested in learning more about birthing options.  Contact me for more information.

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Mercy Eizenga LM, CPM

Mercy Eizenga LM, CPM is the head midwife and owner of Comforts of Home Midwifery. Mercy was first exposed to homebirth when she witnessed the birth of her little brother at the age of 7. Her interest in natural childbirth grew with the birth of her first child and then attending Bradley Natural Childbirth classes with a friend a year and a half later. Attending her first birth as a doula verified that she was called to be a midwife. Mercy attended the Association of Texas Midwives Training Program and completed an apprenticeship with what is now the Corpus Christi Birth Center. She holds a Texas state license, is listed with the state of Oklahoma, and holds her Certified Professional Midwife with the North American Registry of Midwives.

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