Why Labor Is All About Position, Position, Position

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In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. When you’re in labor and your contractions are getting longer and stronger, it’s all about position, position, position.

Moving around and changing the position of your body can be extremely helpful during different stages of labor. It’s safe to say that if you plan to give birth without pain management medication, it’s essential to know as much as you can about how different labor positions can help reduce pain.

If you do plan to use pain medication, you’ll be even more comfortable if you know when to stand up, sit down, lean forward, kneel, or stretch out on your side during — and between — labor contractions.

Moving around and changing your position during labor:

  • Reduces the pain of contractions
  • Helps you rest more comfortably
  • Moves the baby into position for birth
  • Can speed up the labor process

Before You Start

As with most things, not every labor position will work for every person. And there may be some medical pros and cons to consider. If you have high blood pressure, are very tired from a long labor, or have another medical issue, be sure to check with your health care provider first because certain positions might be unadvisable.

In this article, we’ll tell you about the most common labor positions and how they can help you navigate your way through who-knows-how-many hours of labor more comfortably. How will you know which position to use? Just follow your body. When you can move around freely and try different positions, your body will let you know what’s working best at every stage of labor.

Upright Positions

Keeping your body upright can help alleviate pain, especially if you are able to keep your focus on the act of moving your body instead of on your immediate discomfort. Upright positions also make it easier for your baby to move down the birth canal and get into a good position for birth.

Here’s a quick look at some helpful upright positions:

  • When the baby’s weight is putting pressure on your pelvis, sitting on a birthing chair, birthing ball, or even the toilet may help relieve some of your discomfort
  • Vertical positions like standing, walking, slow dancing, or swaying can help relieve backaches, ease the pain of contractions, and help your baby move into position for birth
  • Squatting against a wall or chair or with help from your birth partner is a good way to open your pelvis and help the baby move into position for birth
  • With your partner’s support, slowly lunging forward when you feel a contraction coming on is another good way to help your baby rotate and/or move down the birth canal

Hands and Knees

Spending at least 30 minutes on your hands and knees — either in bed or on a floor mat — can help take some of the pressure off your spine and relieve back pain. This position may also improve your baby’s heart rate and increase their oxygen level.

Kneeling on all fours while leaning forward over a birthing ball can also help your baby move down your pelvis and get into an ideal position for birth.

Lying on Your Side

Lying on your side with pillows between your legs helps you relax between contractions and rest up until the next one. Side lying with a peanut-shaped birthing ball between your legs has a number of potential benefits:

  • Helps expand your pelvis
  • Moves the baby onto position
  • Can increase the baby’s oxygen level
  • Lowers the chance of a cesarean birth
  • Reduces your pain level
  • May shorten labor time

Focus on the Feel-Good

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but they don’t call it “labor” for nothing. Labor and childbirth are a whole lot of work. And in many cases, more than a little uncomfortable for a more-than-you-might-imagine amount of time.

The good news is that the more you know about keeping your brain focused on feel-good activities — including moving around, changing your body position, and a wide variety of established comfort measures — the more you can trick your brain into ignoring (some of) the pain. The goal is to have a healthy birth experience, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t also be as comfortable as possible.

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