1) The bathroom is a safe haven.
Unless you have young children toddling around the house, who like to follow you EVERYWHERE, you can pretty much relax, safe in the knowledge that when you close that bathroom door and slide the lock you won’t be disturbed. We all go to the bathroom several times a day, whether that’s to use the toilet or to have a shower and generally this time is spent alone. Away from the chaos that can sometimes surround us. How many times have you felt a bit overwhelmed somewhere and just gone to the bathroom to ‘get away from it all’? Well you can replicate this feeling when it comes to giving birth. It’s so important to be in the right state of mind and your environment can have a big impact on that, so if you’re feeling like you need some privacy or you just fancy a change of scenery, try the bathroom.
2) The toilet gets you into the perfect position for birth.
It is generally recommended that throughout giving birth mums remain in an upright, forward leaning position, as much as possible. This encourages the baby to adopt an optimal position for birth and also means that gravity is on your side, aiding your baby’s descent into the pelvis. When you sit on the toilet and lean forward slightly, this position occurs naturally. You can also sit facing the back of the toilet and put a pillow on top, so you have a bit more support.
3) It allows you to really let go during your surges.
Very often during surges, and especially when your baby is close to being born, mums feel like they need to pass urine or open their bowels. Of course, a natural reaction to that feeling is to tense up and hold everything inside. It’s not exactly the ‘done thing’ to wee or poo anywhere other than the toilet. So, if you’re already sitting on the toilet then the feeling of wanting to hold on is eliminated and you can feel free to really relax those pelvic floor muscles and allow your baby to move downwards.
4) It can remind us of being at home.
We know that being in a safe and familiar environment can help us when giving birth but this isn’t always possible. Not everyone will be giving birth at home and sometimes hospitals can feel a bit alien. Luckily, most will have an ensuite bathroom attached to each of the birthing rooms. This gives you an opportunity to retreat into a more private area, that can feel safer. We’re all used to being out and about and using the facilities in different places, but once the door is closed we’re still able to let go enough to do what we need to do. This is the same when giving birth, being in the bathroom can allow you to have a sense of that all-important privacy.
5) It can help your birth to progress more quickly.
OK, so this one isn’t exactly scientific, this is purely something I have noticed whilst caring for mums over the years. I don’t think there’s a robust study out there that has randomised mums into sitting on the toilet and not and compared to see how quick their births were. However, I can’t deny what I’ve noticed. Frequently I’ve seen mums disappear into the bathroom and then, all of a sudden, their surges are coming much closer together than before, or their waters break, or if they are bearing down with their surges they actually say they can feel the baby starting to really move down. Like I said, I don’t think there’s any evidence but it is certainly what I have observed.
6) You might have already been practising your birth here.
In our classes, we talk about ‘down breathing’. This is a breathing technique to help facilitate the gentle birth of your baby. Guess where we get you to practise this technique? That’s right, on the toilet! Just as I said before, in order for you to birth your baby you need to be able to relax your pelvic floor muscles and allow your baby to move down. This is most easily achieved in the place we’re all most used to relaxing those muscles, so every time you’re sat on the toilet, it’s like a mini-rehearsal for birth.
So, there you have it, maybe now you’ll give the loo a bit more thought! Obviously, you’ll be wanting to be guided by the midwife looking after you as to when it might be appropriate, that way your baby won’t be born with a splash! And you probably won’t be able to sit there for too long before your legs will go numb but even if it’s just for a few surges it might make the difference.