What if I find squatting or kneeling uncomfortable?
You can optimize the kneeling position by using a foam mat or thick soft cushions to kneel on. This is well complemented by using an inflatable "birth-ball" or bean bag to lean on. With squatting, you have to ensure there is lots of support to hold on to. There can be cushions under the heels as well. Other devices such as inflatable birth balls can be ordered from the Active Birth Centre.
There are other alternatives such as "all fours", upright kneeling or lunging while holding on to a chair or side of the bed. Other positions include sitting on a birth stool or standing and leaning forward on to support. This may be the side of a birth pool, bed or even the partner.
There is no doubt that being in water greatly facilitates changing of position. That is another alternative available.
Will l need any special equipment for an Active Birth?
The essence of Active Birth is that it promotes the merits of natural positions. Any additions will only be complementary. Such equipment as cushions, bean bags, floor mats, birth stools and the birthing pool will augment your comfort. Many hospitals will have these and if they are not there in your room, you can ask for them. However some hospitals do not have these and you may need to enquire about the possibility of bringing your own.
Some hospitals which do not have birthing pools will allow you to bring in a portable- birthing- pool, which you can rent from a number of dedicated places, including the Active Birth Centre. Check with your hospital in advance and make all the preparations with plenty of time to spare.
Remember, the calculated expected date of delivery is for guidance only and the baby may arrive two or even three weeks before.
Can I have an Active Birth regardless of where I labour (home or hospital)?
Your choice of place of birth should not interfere with planned Active Birth. Both home and hospital births are fully compatible with this. In fact, midwives who attend home births expect birth to be active.
Many women or couples who opt for home birth do so in recognition of the freedom that this environment engenders. It is a familiar environment where the expectant mother is uninhibited, can move freely, make noise, use whichever piece of furniture for support, use the bath if and when she feels like etc. This gives a significant psychological boost to the eventual appreciation of the act of birth as a very enriching private experience.
If you are planning to labour in hospital, you may want to discuss with your midwife in advance the possibility of creating a home-like environment. This may include things like the preferred positions for labour and birth, what you may be able to bring in, your willingness regarding medical routines and intervention (you may wish these to be minimal) etc.
To this end, it may be useful to prepare a birth plan, which many obstetric units in hospitals encourage. This may enable you to achieve an Active Birth in hospital with as much assistance and as little disruption as possible.