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What is a Birthing Stool?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ElizaBennett — On May 28, 2011

@ SailorJerry - First of all, congratulations on your impending fatherhood! What an exciting time for your and your wife.

You'll want to tour each hospital, but keep in mind that what you see isn't always what you get. A hospital might draw people in with a jacuzzi tub that hardly ever actually gets used. And having squat bars on the beds doesn't mean that the nurses will be supporting of your birthing plan.

Word of mouth is the only way to go. A good place to start might be for your wife to attend a local La Leche League meeting. While the focus of the group is breastfeeding, many members have an interest in natural childbirth and may have stories to share.

Finding the right provider is also critical. Once you find the right person and the right place, you can always bring your own birthing stool if they don't have them--ask your provider first.

By SailorJerry — On May 27, 2011

My wife and I considered a home birth for our baby, but we decided we felt better with going to the hospital. (Nothing against home birth, just not for us.) How can we find out what hospitals have birthing chairs available? We'll have a choice of a couple different hospitals--what other factors should we consider?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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