'Active Birth' posters adorn many a labour room wall. Labouring women are featured in standing, squatting and kneeling positions. The idea is that lying down flat on your back is counterproductive to the normal birth process.
Few women instinctively choose this position if they are confident and informed about birth physiology... But despite many improvements in most areas in recent decades (particularly since the 1993 government report Changing Childbirth), the bed still plays a central role in many hospital births, and is a powerful psychological trigger for encouraging a passive, 'patient' mindset.
The concept of Active Birth doesn't just mean walking around in labour and giving birth off of your back. It most importantly means that the woman is in control of her own labour, assisted by her birth partner and midwife as her advocates. This means being enabled to make fully informed choices, having time and space to labour on her own terms, and in whatever way feels right, no matter how she has her baby.
Many of us birthworkers in Cornwall have been trained by Active Birth founder Janet Balaskas. Active birth principles are interwoven within my Cornwall hypnobirthing classes
A rally led by Janet Balaskas 30 years ago paved the way for women to choose active birth to bear their children.
"The head obstetrician at the hospital said active birth was animalistic behaviour, and that humans were not animals and should lie down to give birth,"
BBC World Service speaks to the founder of the movement:
Left: Sharon (Nature's Mother) at Helston Birth Unit in west Cornwall