Positions for labour & Birth

Positions for easier childbirth

Did you know that the position you adopt during your labour and birth can actually have an affect on the whole process? This article discusses positions for easier childbirth which may help shorten labour and make it more comfortable for you.

During labour, many women will adopt different positions to help them cope. This often comes naturally to the woman depending on the stage of labour and how much energy she has at the time. It is best to remain mobile and as upright as possible during the early stages and although it is often assumed that laying on the bed is ideal, it can potentially slow labour down and be more uncomfortable during long periods. Adopting a balance between being actively mobile during labour and resting is vital to the progression and maintaining sufficient energy for the birth.

When a woman is mainly upright during labour, gravity helps provide pressure from the baby’s head onto the cervix, encouraging strong contractions to push the baby down towards to birth canal.

Upright positions include:

  • Standing with legs hip width apart with hands on a table, wall or partner. Gently rocking hips from side to side.
  • Sitting/bouncing on a birthing ball
  • Kneeling over a bed or sofa
  • Standing upright leaning on partner
  • Being in water allows for upright labour and birth positions

Campaign for Normal Birth, Royal College of Midwives

Some women complain of backache during labour.  This is often due to the baby laying with their spine against their mothers in the womb (posterior position or sunny side up). Going onto all fours can help with the discomfort as well as encourage the baby to adopt a more optimal position for the birth.

During the birth of the baby, a variety of positions can be adopted. Once again, the more upright positions tend to reduce the risk of an instrumental delivery. The pelvic outlet is wider, the uterine muscles and contract effectively and pushing efforts are easier. Kneeling, squatting and all fours are fantastic birthing positions.  As well as all the benefits above, Mothers are able to see and pick up their babies immediately after the birth.

If a woman has an epidural, lying in a flat recumbent position should be avoided. Her midwife should help her adopt a semi recumbent position or laying on her side with the use of pillows. When birthing with an epidural in situ, a more upright position should be adopted to assist as much as possible with the descent of the baby through the pelvis as sensation is reduced if not absent.

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