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What's a Birthing Chair for?

I’ve heard of moms-to-be using birthing chairs during delivery. But what are they exactly?
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Updated February 28, 2017
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A birthing chair isn’t typically used in a hospital — it’s more likely to be used for a home birth or at a birthing center. Birthing chairs allow women to be in the squatting position during labor, a position many women find can make delivery easier, thanks to gravity. “The squatting position helps the mom push the baby out more forcefully,” says Elise Harper, MD, an ob-gyn at Health Central OBGYN in Frisco, Texas. “By squatting, you’re allowing gravity to help bring the baby down to the right position. It also helps open your pelvis up.”

If you’re giving birth in a hospital and feel that you’re missing out on a birthing chair, don’t worry — the doctors will put you in a similar position. “In a hospital setting, we convert the bed so that women are in a semi-reclining sitting position,” says Harper. “This allows gravity to do its work, but in a controlled way. We emulate a birthing chair, but alter it because some women get epidurals and are unable to control their legs.”

Birthing chairs sound awesome, but we’ve got to warn you about one drawback: tearing. Birthing chairs can put you at a higher risk for tearing because baby’s head could put extra pressure on your pelvis (yikes!). If you’re considering using one, ask your OB or midwife how to help prevent tearing during delivery.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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