What it is:
To squat, the mother will bend at the hips and the knees until her bottom is close to the floor. The heels of her feet should remain on the floor throughout the squat.
How it works:
Squatting realigns the pelvis to increase the opening at the bottom by up to 15%. Squatting also uses the force of gravity to help the baby make her way down the birth canal. These can result in a faster second (pushing) stage.
When to do it:
Squatting is used during the second stage of labor. If the mother is stretched enough, as a contraction begins help her move into position for the duration of the contraction. At the end of the contraction help her resume the most comfortable position for her to allow her muscles to relax.
You do not need to squat through the entire second stage. Just move into this position for the contractions. This will give you about 2 minutes of squat to 5 minutes of relaxation depending on the frequency and duration of your contractions.
Some experts believe you should not use the squat during first stage, as it will close the inlet of the pelvis and hinder the baby's progress. For the same reason, you should not squat until you have the urge to push. The urge to push is a very good indicator that the baby has move down the pelvis and is at the outlet.
Incorporating it into Labor:
If the mother desires to sit in a bed to relax, have her bring her knees back and place the bottoms of her feet on the bed, then help her move forward into a squat for the pushing contraction.
Some hospitals and birth centers have beds with a special attachment called a squat bar. This bar is used to support the weight of the mother to make it easier to balance.
You may have access to a birthing stool. This is a low, u-shaped stool that the mother will sit on. Her body will be in the squat position, but her weight will not need to be supported by her legs.