Believe it or not, lying down is not the only way to give birth. Movies and television shows have made it seem as though once you get your first contraction, you’ll be lying in bed all the way up until your baby is in your arms. You could do it this way, but it could actually increase the amount of time it takes to give birth and decrease your levels of comfort and pain relief. There are multiple positions that you can choose to give birth in. As long as you have the option to move around, you’ll probably settle on one that is most comfortable for you naturally.

It is especially important to move around as much as possible when your labor contractions first start. Though you might get excited and rush to the hospital with no time to spare, you actually have a long way to go before your baby starts to make his or her way out. If you do rush to the hospital, try taking walks with your partner between contractions. You could even ask to take a hot shower or bath if there is one available. During the first stages of labor, your goal should be pain relief. A recent study shows that women who stay active during early labor have a labor that is an hour less than women who do not. During early labor, don’t stay on your back.

Once active labor is well underway and it’s time to start pushing, follow your body as much as possible. When you get into a certain position, you might feel as though the baby will come out more easily. Unfortunately, moving around is not as easy for women who are connected to a monitor or tethered by an epidural. However, even the slightest movements in your legs or hips might give you a sense of ease and relief. Don’t be afraid to shift positions and ask your nurses which are safe for labor.

The position that is most common for labor is really mainly common because it makes the job easier on midwives and doctors. When you’re on your back, physicians have a clearer view of your progress, which makes them feel more in control of the situation should something go wrong suddenly. Their job is certainly important, but make comfort a priority for yourself during labor as long as your nurses say it’s safe.

Source: Elaine Zwelling: Overcoming the Challenges: Maternal Movement and Positioning to Facilitate Labor Progress. MCN, American Journal of Child Nursing Volume 35 Issue 2 pp. 72-78 April 2010

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