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Did women always used to give birth lying down? (Call the Midwife)

(73 Posts)
DontCallMeMaybe Sun 19-Nov-17 22:44:15

I've been watching a lot of Call the Midwife (possibly a silly idea as I'm due next week), and every birth in it shows the woman lying down on her back for delivery.

From what I've heard and also what I experienced when I last gave birth, this isn't generally the most comfortable or efficient position... I know I couldn't lie or even sit down.

So I'm curious to know if this is lazy filming or is this really how women gave birth in the 50s/60s?

Anyone know?

dowsabel Sun 19-Nov-17 23:03:11

I’m interested in this. I had 4 elective sections so no idea about labouring but flat in your back looks so unhelpful to proceedings!

Fekko Sun 19-Nov-17 23:04:51

I always thought so. Wasn't it from ye olde royal times when an observer was needed at royal births to make sure there wasn't any switcheroo shenanigans with royal babies?

OllyBJolly Sun 19-Nov-17 23:06:33

I had mine in the 90s and was put in that position for birth both times. (Two separate hospitals, separate NHS areas)

BackforGood Sun 19-Nov-17 23:08:10

Same as Olly - my 3 dc were born in the 90s and just into the 00s and I was lying down for all 3.

TittyGolightly Sun 19-Nov-17 23:09:36

Nope. Wasn’t it that twat Louis XIV who demanded to see his baby being born that changed expected child birth in the West? It’s natural and beneficial to be upright.

EvilEdna1 Sun 19-Nov-17 23:11:19

So....in history when women were attended in birth by the wise women of their village(midwives) they would have been mobile and adopting upright positions because this is generally instinctive and makes logical sense. Birth art through the centuries from the earliest etchings depicts this. Then male drs got involved realising there was money to be made and shoved the wise women aside. Many were burnt as witches. It's easier for them and more 'seemly' for women to be on their backs so they were told to do this. The advent of epidurals really cemented this too.

treaclesoda Sun 19-Nov-17 23:11:40

When I was in labour and got to the pushing stage I was made to lie on my back. In 2006.

PaperdollCartoon Sun 19-Nov-17 23:14:10

Lying down has become the medicalised norm and but it’s far from the best postition. Squatting or on all fours is much more natural, gravity works with you.

Jakeyboy1 Sun 19-Nov-17 23:14:58

At NCT we were fed a load of info like how it is easiest for the midwife if you're on your back but not for you. And yes I completely agree with the gravity being needed. However I was so exhausted both times the only way I wanted to be was on my back!

DramaAlpaca Sun 19-Nov-17 23:15:32

I had mine in the mid 90s and the midwives wanted me to lie down as they'd have a better view that way. I wasn't having any of it and insisted on being upright.

If you watch US programmes about childbirth the mothers always seem to be lying on their backs to give birth. I always think it looks so uncomfortable as it's not exactly the most efficient position.

DontCallMeMaybe Sun 19-Nov-17 23:16:38

I was also on my back in the end but that was down to an epidural.
I really don't think I could have done it otherwise no matter who asked me to!

Clickncollect Sun 19-Nov-17 23:23:33

My mum said when she was in labour with me, she kept getting off the bed to walk around and was told to get back on the bed every time! This was 1977.

dinosaurkisses Sun 19-Nov-17 23:25:14

I read an article on Twilight Delivery (v interesting, but would not recommend reading shortly before childbirth!) which outlined how births became more medicalised and less reliant on local midwives' knowledge in the early 20th century. Part of this was "encouraging" women to lay on their backs as it made things easier for the male doctors to see what was going on.

Spamdex Sun 19-Nov-17 23:27:59

I was forced to give birth lying on my back in stirrups last year sad. There are still midwives whose preference for an immobile patient means the mother's preferences are ignored.

DontCallMeMaybe Sun 19-Nov-17 23:36:04

Mine has been enthusiastic about a water birth at home this time. Definitely doesn't sound like she's putting ease of examination first (thankfully).

ReinettePompadour Sun 19-Nov-17 23:36:40

I must be weird. My midwife desperately tried to get me up and about (90s) but I just wanted to lie down. My legs just felt like jelly and I really didnt want to do anything but lie down.

I think for a long time in the 60s and 70s women were encouraged to save their energy by lying down to give birth, its easier to intervene too from a medical perspective.

I just think do whatever you feel is best for you.

Cottonwoolbawl Sun 19-Nov-17 23:39:30

In 2013 I laboured on my back. Then I needed the toilet and got a comode I think - then I was there for ages while they said it was a better position

Xmasbaby11 Sun 19-Nov-17 23:42:08

I was flat on my back, in stirrups, 5 years ago. Can't really remember why, was a hideous 24 hour Labour resulting in epidural and forceps delivery.

Being in the stirrups hurt my hip so I couldn't walk and needed physio. I think the plan is always for an active labour but it doesn't always work out.

NorthernLurker Sun 19-Nov-17 23:43:34

I laboured on my back twice. The midwives seemed happy with that, certainly didn't encourage anything different. The third time I was upright, kneeling on the bed. I preferred that but my arms were agony the next day. I was hanging on to the head of the bed too hard! The midwife was equally accepting of that position.

girlandboy Sun 19-Nov-17 23:45:59

In 1966 my mum gave birth to me at home lying down on her side, with my dad holding her leg in the air. I think I've seen that on Call The Midwife too.
I gave birth in 1995 in hospital while kind of sitting on the floor. But in 2000 I gave birth on a hospital bed sitting propped up on my back.

ferrier Sun 19-Nov-17 23:47:28

There always seemed to be some pressing reason why I had to be flat on my back - probably for efm sad
Last one was stirrups too angry

stonecircle Sun 19-Nov-17 23:49:18

Also gave birth 3 times in the 90s on my back. Couldn’t have done it any other way but plenty opportunity to get into whatever position I wanted. Surely the right way is the way that works for you? hmm

Unicornsandrainbows3 Sun 19-Nov-17 23:52:39

I was upright both times. One leaning over a birth ball and once squatting. Lying on my back would have been agony! Depends on the mother and the birth though, some might be more comfortable on the back, each birth is different.

redexpat Mon 20-Nov-17 00:04:20

I insisted on stirrups to take the weight off my hips. I was induced both times and it seemed to be expected that I would lie down, but the bed was tilted. I didnt feel that any other position would have been better.

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