Do Big Hips Equal Easier Births?
Does hip size truly correspond with fertility and easier births? Or are there other factors involved?
Back in the day, mothers would assess their daughter-in-law's "potential" by how wide her hips were. It was believed that the size of the hips are an indication of fertility and also how easy it would be to bear and deliver children with small women often believed to have more difficulty during labour.
Despite the fact that small women with small hips have been birthing children since well before we were all born, the myth still persists that big hips = easier births. Many modern women opt for elective Caesareans because they believe their hips are just too small to allow a baby through.
Even modern doctors guided by modern technology like the ultrasound, are known to make remarks that a woman's hips are too narrow, or a heavier baby would automatically need a Caesarean. But ultrasounds are not 100% accurate, and personally, I know of a few women who have pushed out babies 4-4.5kg in weight. Amazing, but they did it!
So it may not come as a surprise that pelvic size is only one of many factors that contribute to a successful vaginal birth. Yes it is true that an optimal pelvic formation has a round opening with round buttocks, and a less optimal pelvic formation has an oval opening with smaller buttocks.
But it does not mean that only women with the optimal pelvic formation can deliver normally. The hormone relaxin is produced during pregnancy, helping to loosen up the pelvis, making it a dynamic, flexible passageway. A baby’s head is also a flexible structure with joints that can be molded or compressed with the plates of the skull overlapping while it makes its way through the birth canal.
What's more important is eating healthy and staying active. There is a noticeable association between how well a woman is nourished and how easy the birth is. Back then, many women suffered from nutritional deficiencies and illnesses like polio or rickets can cause pelvic anomalies, leading to risky births and high mortality rates. It was not the size of their hips per se, but the fact that their bone structures were compromised by illness.
We've come a long way since then and standards of living have risen. Many diseases have been eradicated and most of us have some working knowledge on what foods to eat for a balanced diet. We know that pregnancy is a time to prepare and nourish our bodies and our babies.
We also know that exercise can help keep us flexible, strong and limber to prepare for labour. Exercises like Kegels and squats are especially good to strengthen the pelvic floor and open the pelvis up.
So if you're hoping for a vaginal delivery, don't worry about things you can't change, like your pelvis size, and start focusing on things that you can, like your diet and fitness!