In many traditional hospital settings, women spend the first stage of labor resting in bed. Researchers from The Townsville Hospital and Health Center in Queensland, Australia decided to look more closely at the impact of changing position during the first stage of labor, including moving out of the bed altogether. The study results were published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Using multiple databases, researchers located 25 studies on first stage labor birth positioning in regards to stage length and pregnancy outcome. More than 5,000 pregnancies were reviewed for the study.

Conclusion: Sitting upright and walking during the first stage of labor reduced stage length by more than one hour and 20 minutes. Positional changes did not have an effect on length of the subsequent stages of labor or the health and well-being of mother or child. Researchers call to attention the skeptical methodology of some studies suggesting more focused and controlled studies be completed to verify results.

Source: Lawrence A, Lewis L, Hofmeyr GJ, Styles C. Maternal positions and mobility during first stage labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Oct 9;10:CD003934.