For many years as a midwife I believed that the pelvis was a bony ring, through which the baby must pass.

It is only fairly recently that I have re-discovered that the pelvis in fact has joints (two sacroiliac joints and the symphysis pubis), that allow movement and flexibility to assist the birth journey.

There are simple movements and positions that women can adopt in pregnancy, labour and birth that gives extra room in various dimensions of the pelvis. This increases the space available to the baby and assists the baby to occupy an optimal position.

One great example is when the baby’s head births; if women have the confidence and freedom to listen to their bodies and to move instinctively, they will shut their legs, pointing their knees and toes inwards. This simple movement opens the outlet of the pelvis, making more room for the baby’s head to emerge and birth.

Why is it then that women are often encouraged to open their legs? Is this so that birth attendants can observe progress and manage the birth?

It is so important that as birth workers we equip couples to feel comfortable and confident, plus provide an environment that is conducive for women to move and change position intuitively. Intervention is only needed when nature needs a hand. Biology, anatomy and physiology usually know best!