Despite what you often see depicted in movies and television, laying flat on your back isn’t the only labor and delivery position. In fact, there are several alternatives that can help to make the labor and delivery experience more comfortable for you and your baby. Below is a roundup of expert-approved positions to help you prepare for the big day!
A move we often think of doing in the gym can have some great benefits during labor and delivery, too! Squatting helps to open up your pelvis and make room for your baby to move toward the birth canal. Many women have found that this can also shorten labor as gravity helps to bring the baby down. Try this position with a chair or leaning on your partner to support your weight.
If you’re experiencing back pain, getting on all fours can help to take pressure off your spine and ease pain. It also puts you in a prime position to have your support person massage your back. (And who doesn’t love a good back massage, right?) Similar to squatting, it also helps to open your pelvis. Try this position on a mat or bed so you have some padding under your knees.
Sitting is a great way to take a break when you need it. Try this position on a birthing ball, chair, or even the toilet to help to relieve pressure in your pelvis. This position also relaxes the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) and in turn can help prevent tearing.
Leaning forward can help lessen discomfort in your lower back. Try this position by leaning forward against the hospital bed, over a birthing ball, or even on your support person. If your baby is pressing against your tailbone, this may encourage the baby to rotate into a different position and reduce some pressure.
Many women find that being upright and standing or taking short walks can reduce pain and even speed up labor. “Pelvic rocking,” or the practice of tilting your pelvis forward and back, has also been shown to reduce back pain and increase pelvic mobility for delivery. It can be done standing upright, on all fours (similar to the cat-cow yoga position) or on an exercise ball.
It’s also important not to forget about the power of breathwork! Deep, focused breathing can help you release tension, the body’s natural reaction when we are experiencing pain.
There’s no one labor and delivery position that’s best for all women, but it’s nice to have options! You can try experimenting with two, three, or even more positions to see what’s most comfortable for you. Ultimately, the best position is one that provides the most relief to you. And as always, it’s important to clear any exercise or position with your provider who knows you and your birth plan best.