The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) promotes the use of different positions for labour and birth to enable labouring women to feel comfortable and to help labour to flow.
The RCM states that: “Gravity is the greatest aid in giving birth but for historical reasons we can make women give birth on their backs. These resources can be used to help women understand and practice alternative positions during pregnancy, to feel free to be mobile and to use different positions during labour and birth.”
The key to using positions and movement in labour is to listen to your body, to allow instinct to take over so you use positions for rest and for your contractions.
Positions for labour & birth: get comfy and let your body do what it needs to do…
You can sit on a ball or a chair to be upright. For extra support you can lean on someone or use the bed, a chair or a sling.
If you are moving around, you may want to lean into the wall or lean onto someone during a contraction or just for more support if you are tired.
If you want to be in water, a birthing pool, a bath or a shower can help you feel more comfortable and safe.
If you want or need to be on a bed, it can useful as well as comfortable to sit as upright as possible so you still have more gravity.
If you want to squat to birth your baby you may need to be supported by someone or you want to hold on to a chair, the bed or to lean on the birth ball.
If your baby is not quite in the right position and your contractions are a bit stop/start, it can be beneficial to walk up and down some stairs – even marching on the spot could make a difference. The movement can maximise the space in your pelvis, which could help your baby move into a better position.
Positions for labour & birth – to rest and conserve your energy…
It is really important to conserve your energy in labour – if you want to rest, find a position which help you feel as comfortable as possible. Lying down may not be comfortable and it may make your contractions less effective so you can use positions where your body is supported so you can rest.
Positions for labour & birth – if your baby is being monitored…
If your baby is being continuously monitored, you most probably don’t need to stay on the bed. In many circumstances, you can continue to use positions and movement to be as comfortable as possible.
Staying upright and moving around in labour can be so instinctive and essential to managing your contractions, staying comfortable and staying in control.
It can also be to your benefit to start thinking about labour positions during your pregnancy. There’s nothing complicated about it – just become familiar with different positions. women in labour can be less likely to assume positions they are not familiar with, especially because the media is full of images of labouring women lying on a bed. Preparation during pregnancy can help to change this behaviour and provide the opportunity to try different positions which can help to lessen the pain of the powerful contractions. (reference MIDIRS Positions in labour and delivery)
To help you prepare well for the birth of your baby, just get in touch…
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Positions Images: Royal College of Midwives
Words: Copyright – Janine Smith/Birth, Baby & Family