Squatting position is a basic and natural human posture. People in ancient times didn’t have chair-like toilets; they assumed the natural crouching position (squatting) that two-thirds of humanity still uses today. What many may not be aware is that in the sitting position, there is a natural kink between the rectum and anus. One has to strain and bear downwards in an attempt to force a turd around the bend. The ability to squat is important because it is intended that human beings evacuate waste in the squatting position. The Western habit of sitting is actually a recent development which began about 150 years ago, during the Industrial Revolution, when sitting-type toilets were introduced to the masses.
Steven Arnott, in his book “Wash Your Hands!” points out that squatting is a healthier option because it aligns the rectum and anus in a near vertical position. Sitting tends to create a kink between the rectum and anus, often necessitating much straining to force a turd around the bend. Squatting also spreads the buttocks to reveal the anus, whereas sitting can do the opposite.
Another is an Iraeli physician, Dr. Berko Sikirov, who discovered that hemorrhoids, found in approximately 50 percent of people over forty in western societies, is caused by the continual aggravation of straining that is needed to force out a turd while in the sitting position. The sit-down toilet was an effect of the increasing class and racial stratification of the Victorian Era in England (1837-1901). The flushing sit-down toilet was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harrington, a godson of Queen Elizabeth I (Wolf) who knew nothing about human physiology.
Squatting during childbirth is common in Africa. The practice of squatting to give birth has its roots in ancient history. As far back as we have records or stories about birthing; we see references to women giving birth in an upright or squatting position. There have been ancient art created to depict women squatting during birth. Artfully crafted birthing stools and chairs have been built to assist mothers. Where are they now? Unfortunately since the medicalization of birth, women are pushing on their backs with their legs in the air. Physiologically, this is a very poor position in which to facilitate maternal pushing efforts as it opposes gravity. It is also not ideal for the baby, as the large uterus rests against the major vessels leading to the uterus and can impede blood flow during labor when the vessels may already be somewhat compromised due to strong contractions. Low fetal heart tones often recover when the mother assumes an upright position.
Some women in western countries often find the squatting position very uncomfortable, so they do not usually wish to assume this position for a long time. These western women do not squat to conduct business, or converse with friends, as they do in many African cultures. And because this position many women’s leg muscles and tendons do not support this position for long.
In central Africa, a tree is placed between two other trees or stakes hammered into the ground. The woman then grasps the branch of the tree, and bends her knees into a squatting position as she pushes. It is customary for delivery to occur with the woman squatting on the ground surrounded by sisters and female relatives, some of whom function as midwives. Other parts in Africa a women would kneel, leaned forward and grasp a pole or tree. Here are some real definitions on positions:
- SquattingSquatting is the position the body is designed to use to eliminate and give birth in. It opens the outlet of the pelvis to allows for an easier passage of the baby. It also helps to prevent perineal tears. Some women find that using an upright squatting position helps them focus their efforts to push with the right muscles. Other women feel that being upright makes them more in control of their pushing. Some mothers find that a squatting position is uncomfortable because their bodies are not familiar with it. In that case, tools or props can be used to help the mother maintain a squatting position, such as a squat bar on a hospital bed, a birth stool or a handle or counter that the mother can hold onto for support while she squats.
- Hands and KneesFor mothers who are experiencing back pain during labor, a hands and knees position can help to relieve some of the back pressure. It also uses gravity to help encourage the baby to turn to an easier position. Some care givers are uncomfortable with the hands and knees position because the “upside down” view is unfamiliar to them, and that makes it difficult for them to assess progress.
- Toilet SittingSome mothers find it difficult to isolate the muscles necessary to push effectively. Other mothers are embarrassed by the sensations of pushing, concerned that body fluids may be excreted. In these case, sitting on the toilet to push may allow the mother to feel more free with her pushing efforts. By imitating the pushing she does for a bowel movement, a mother can improve her pushing technique. Having the toilet to catch body fluids can make the mother feel more comfortable with the effects of her pushes. I find this position as the best for me to get a woman out of her bed.