You may have heard or read that changing positions during labor can help ease the pain and sometimes speed up the process. Certain positions are better at specific times. These seven recommendations can be your guide, but listen to your body and change positions as needed. If you find a position that works for you, come back to it every 2nd or 3rd rotation of contractions. Just remember it is important to keep moving and to use multiple labor positions. This will decrease your fatigue and keep the baby moving down the birth canal.
On Your Back
This position is good for resting. However, it’s best to get up off your back and let gravity help you move that baby down. Even if you have an epidural, the labor and delivery beds are designed to help you move into different positions.
On Your Hands & Knees
Rocking back and forth on your hands and knees has been known to release pressure from a laboring mother’s back. Rock from front to back and then side to side. You can even try doing circular rotations if that feels more comfortable.
The Birthing Ball
Sitting on the ball and rolling your hips around will keep them loose, wide and open. This is good for resting and can be used for fetal monitoring. Other ways to use the ball are to lay your arms over it for support while leaning forward, and leaning your back against it while squatting. Squatting while using the ball can take some balance, so you may want to practice before you go into labor.
This is a great position for opening up your pelvis giving the baby room to move down the birth canal. There are multiple ways to accomplish a labor squat. The most common form is to hold on to the end of the birthing bed or a chair as you squat. If you prefer to be in the bed, the lower 1/3 of it can be dropped down and a squat bar added so you can hold onto it.
Another way is a standing, supported squat. It requires help from your support person. Have the person stand behind you and hold you under your armpits so you hang supported by their hands. This allows you to rest into the squat without having to hold all your own body weight with your legs. Note that this position can fatigue the support person, so you will want to alternate positions if using this one.
On Your Side
This is a great resting position. Ask your support person to put a peanut-shaped birthing ball between your legs to keep your hips open. This allows the baby to descend and rotate.
This position can open your pelvis allowing the baby to more easily descend. Put your foot up on a chair and lunge forward. As you feel a contraction start, lean in towards your foot. You will want to make sure your support person is near to help you keep your balance.
Forward Standing Lean
You can use the bed, a person, the wall or whatever works best for you. When a contraction begins, lean forward and put your arms around the item or person you are using for support. When the contraction is over stand up until you feel another beginning on and then lean forward again.