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A birthing stool is a stool which 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 this type of 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; some people have chosen to make their own to personalize the labor and delivery process.
The concept of sitting or squatting during labor is ancient, and widely practiced in many cultures, and the use of the birthing stool is also quite old. It is designed to bear up to a substantial amount of weight and pressure, and it is usually low to the ground so that a laboring mother can plant her feet firmly. Most importantly, the stool has a hole in the middle, allowing a midwife to monitor the progress of the labor and providing a space for the baby to slide through.
Typically, a laboring mother does not remain on a birthing stool for the duration of her labor. She is encouraged to walk around, squat, and keep her body moving while she practices deep breathing. This device stool is used for difficult parts of the labor, and to provide support when the woman wants to sit. While on a birthing stool, the mother may be massaged or use compresses to ease the pain of labor.
In a 1991 study in the Netherlands, few differences were observed between groups of women using birthing stools and women laboring in a semi-prone position. The researchers noted that the groups experienced similar delivery times and rates of complications. However, women who used stools seemed to experience less pain, and they also expressed more satisfaction with the labor and delivery process, suggesting that it might be beneficial.
While some people associate the birthing stool with home births, this tool can also be used in hospital deliveries. Many hospitals offer birthing suites and extensive midwifery services which encourage women to arrange their own birth plans, using the methods they feel comfortable with to deliver, and these methods may include the use of birth stools, birthing balls, and other tools which are designed to increase the comfort of a laboring mother.