Determining loads acting on the pelvis in upright and recumbent birthing positions: A case study

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Abstract

Background:

The biomechanics of mothers' birthing positions and their impact on maternal and newborn health outcomes are poorly understood. Our objectives were to determine the loads applied to the female pelvis during dynamic movement that may occur during childbirth; findings are intended to inform clinical understanding and further research on birth positioning mechanics.

Methods:

An optical motion capture system and force platforms were used to collect upright and supine movement data from two pregnant and three non-pregnant participants. Using an inverse dynamics approach, normalized three-dimensional hip and sagittal plane lumbosacral joint moments were estimated during squatting, all-fours, and supine activities.

Findings:

During squatting, peak hip abduction moments were greater for our pregnant (compared with non-pregnant) participants and lumbosacral extension moments substantially exceeded those during walking. The all-fours activity, conversely, generated flexion moments at the L5/S1 joint throughout most of the cycle. In supine, the magnitude of the ground reaction force reached 100% body weight with legs and upper body raised (McRoberts' position); the centre of pressure remained cranial to the sacrum.

Interpretation:

Squatting generated appreciable moments at the hip and lumbosacral joints that could potentially affect pelvic motion during childbirth.

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