There are many labour positions listed below you can choose from, although you may be limited if you have an epidural. You may not be able to move around or you might have equipment attached to you to monitor your baby.
Being upright allows gravity to help your baby push down onto your cervix to help it dilate. Your Pelvic Floor muscles also assist with guiding your baby into the birth canal so it’s in the best position for delivery.
Recent research has shown that this position reduces the birth canal by a third. Who wants that to be smaller? The sacroiliac joint and tailbone need to open slightly during the second stage of labour and this is more difficult if your SIJ has pressure on it. With this pressure the pelvic capacity reduces so it’s not as wide as it could be to allow your baby to come out. Not what you want when you’re trying to push a baby out!
Therefore by trying to avoid lying on your back and choosing an upright position you are less likely to need an episiotomy (a cut is made to increase the size of your vagina), less experience of pain and you are less likely to need assistance e.g. forceps/vacuum.
Try these positions:
- Squatting with arms on the bed - this allows your arms to take some of your weight but you will want to be really strong in your legs. I have combined a wide squat exercise in my program to prepare women for this position and slowly build up your leg strength during your pregnancy. More PPF info.
- Kneeling on the floor with your arms on a swiss ball or chair - again this allows the pelvic capacity to open and you can use your arms to help take the weight of your body.
- All fours supported on cushions or pillows under your knees and hands.
- Water birth. Your body weight is supported with bouyancy, and your partner can even get in with you. If you love water this might be a calming and relaxing option for you which can keep your contractions in rhythm as you are more relaxed. Just remember to keep your knees lower than your hips.
- If you do need to rest and lie down, try side lying with your lower leg straight and your top leg bent on a pillow.
More than likely you will want to move and change positions so having a few to choose from can help. Talk to your health professional about your options and most of all listen to your body and choose what you are most comfortable with.
The Pro’s and Con’s of water birth - the Baby Centre
Gupta JK, Hofmeyr GJ, Smyth R. Position in the second stage of labour for women without epidural anaesthesia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD002006. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002006.pub2.