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Labor Positions

Labor Positions

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There is not any set way a woman must give birth in.  It depends on where you're comfortable and what's happening with the labor. Most women do well lying on their side during labor, while others like to walk during labor. Here are several birthing options that most women can try during labor. If there is a position you feel would work well during your labor, talk to your medical professional about it!

  • Flat on your back: Generally uncomfortable. It can cause your uterus to press against the inferior vena cava blood vessel, decreasing the placenta blood supply, and it can push against your diaphragm making it hard to breathe. For extra comfort and support, put a pillow under your knees and bend them slightly, or sit in a semi-reclining position with your head and shoulders elevated and resting on a bunch of pillows.
  • On Your Side: Takes pressure off your perineum and keeps the weight of your uterus off the blood vessel called the vena cava, maximizing blood flow to your uterus and your baby. Have your partner hold your upper leg to widen the pelvic outlet and support the weight of the baby.
  • On your hands and knees: May ease back pains and give a poorly positioned baby a chance to turn around. May help a baby who appears to be stressed because it maximizes blood flow to the uterus and the placenta. This position can be difficult if you have an epidural, as you may not be able to move your legs well enough to support yourself.

Upright Positions

  • Sitting during early labor: Makes your uterus move forward, taking pressure off your diaphragm and improving the blood supply to the contracting muscles. Try a birthing chair or stool if there is one handy, or a birthing ball.
  • Standing or walking during labor: Helps widen your pelvic opening and lets gravity do its job by pressing the baby's head against your cervix. Use a wall or ask to lean on your labor coach during contractions.
  • Squatting during delivery: Opens your pelvis even wider so the baby has more room to move down into the birth canal. Use a bed with a squatting bar or two extra bodies to help support you and sustain this position.
  • Kneeling during delivery: Lets you maintain an upright position without straining your back. Just kneel on a pillow, lean forward against your bed, a chair, or a wall, and rest your arms and upper body on or against the prop.

It's important to realize that upright positions can be difficult if you have an epidural, because your legs may be too numb to support you or balance in an upright position. Normally you are also able to try different positions before an epidural.

Once an epidural has been given, you may be required to lye on your back or side.

During labor your physician may suggest different laboring positions to help easy your discomfort.


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