For most of labor, the laboring woman will simply select a position that is comfortable to her. Sometimes, the woman is not sure what will feel the most comfortable or is overwhelmed with contractions and unable to make a decision about what position to choose. Other times, a specific circumstance in the labor, such as pain felt in the back, may respond to a change in position. At those times, it is helpful for the person in the labor support role to make appropriate suggestions for position. The following guidelines can help you select the most comfortable and effective position to recommend.
Upright positions allow gravity to increase the intensity of the contractions naturally, while minimizing the discomfort felt. When recommending an upright position, be aware of how fatigued the woman is, and how much assistance she will require to safely maintain the position. Upright positions include standing, walking, leaning against a wall, dangling in someone’s arms, slow dancing or leaning over the back of a chair.
Leaning positions take pressure off the pelvic floor and allow the abdomen to hang increasing chances for the baby to change positions. Some leaning position allow the woman to remain somewhat upright while also providing support. Suggest leaning while she stands or kneels over a chair, over a birth ball, into someone’s lap, over the side of the tub, over the side of a bed or over the end of the bed.
Sitting positions allow the body to work with gravity while also allowing rest. It is possible to sit and maintain pelvic motion if the woman is comfortable sitting on a birth ball or a rocking chair. Suggest sitting on a chair either forward or backward, a beanbag, birth ball, cross-legged on the floor, on a toilet or in a rocking chair.
Reclining positions allow rest or sleep between contractions and can help manage the intensity of a fast labor. It is possible to reclin in a bed or a large couch, with pillows on the floor or by using pillows and a foot rest in a rocker or chair. If necessary, you can provide the back support by having the laboring woman sit in front of you and recline onto your body.
Lying positions allow the woman to rest or sleep during very long or intense labors. While lying, she should avoid lying directly on her back. Instead, using pillows to help her lie on side by placing a firm pillow under one hip or side of her back, or allowing her to roll her body forward to lie on her side and rest her upper leg on a pillow. These positions can be comfortable on a , sofa, bed or a comfortable mat on the floor.
Positions that give the freedom to move your pelvis may help the baby to rotate, allowing for a faster labor.
- Try pelvic rocking in any of the upright or leaning positions.
- Try slow dancing, allowing her to lean on your for support.
- Sitting or standing in front of her with your hands on her hips, help her sway her hips back and forth or in a figure eight during contractions.
- Try lunging forward with her foot on a chair or stool.
- Try walking in between or during contractions.
- If she is sitting, encourage her to rock her torso back and forth or in a circle.