Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Birthing Stool

A birthing stool is a tool that can assit a midwife in managing labour. Birthing stools can be used in the second stage of labour to aid in delivery of the baby. We all love birthing stools because we found them highly effective; they are a great place to rest while still using gravity to aid in labour. There was a time when birth was treated as a natural process rather than a medical condition. Before 1800, women gave birth seated in birth chairs or on stools and were helped along by midwives. Then societal changes in attitudes toward women and the practice of medicine made birthing a province of the male-dominated medical profession.

A birthing stool is has been specifically designed for use during childbirth. It allows a woman to sit or squat while giving birth with support to help her if she begins to feel fatigued. Many advocates of natural birth support the use of a birthing stool, which may also be called a birth support stool or a birth stool. Such stools are available from companies which provide equipment to midwives, and they can also be handmade.


The concept of sitting or squatting during labour is ancient, and widely practiced in many cultures, and the use of the birthing stool is also quite old. There have been ancient art created to depict women squatting during birth. Artfully crafted birthing stools and chairs have been built to assist mothers. Until very recently, in Europe, particularly in Northern Europe, in Denmark, birthing stool was considered a family treasure, and was preserved in the family for generations. A bride brought to the new family the birth stool inherited from her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

The medieval birth stool was a horse-shoe or boomerang shaped slab of wood on legs, without a back and without arms. A woman could sit on it and move her pelvis freely. One of the birth companions sat behind her cradling against her body and moving with her. It was a familiar, comfortable posture since women were accustomed to sitting crouched on a low stool when milking a cow or goat and spinning or weaving.

A birthing stool is designed to bear up to a substantial amount of weight and pressure, and it is usually low to the ground so that a labouring mother can plant her feet firmly. Also, a birthing stool has a hole in the middle, which allow a midwife to monitor the progress of the labour and providing a space for the baby to slide through.

The birth stool were used in Egypt, Persia and India and also of lap-sitting. The latter was common in Africa, Europe and South America. In the early nineteenth century a German carpenter devised a birth stool with a back to it after his wife told other pregnant women in her neighborhood how easy it had been giving birth sitting between her husband’s thighs. As a result women called on him to attend them when they were in labor. He became very popular in the town, to such a degree that he constructed a birth stool to take his place.
First, the benefits of squatting include:
  • shortened second stage of labor (the pushing phase)
  • Reduced need for forceps during delivery
  • Reduced need for episiotomy
  • Shortens the depth of the birth canal
  • Increased pelvic diameter
Many women can use the birthing stool to squat. This is a very interesting history of birth stools. The full version of the article by Sheila Kitzinger is available by clicking here. The teaching film The BirthRite Experience, explains the use of the Birthing Seat in detail.


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