Be Empowered Birth Series
One of the unique elements of our Be Empowered Childbirth Classes is the learning and practicing of labor positions. In every stage of labor, positions are used for numerous reasons, including to help progress labor by allowing the pelvis to open (giving space to baby), allowing the laboring mother to rest, and positions the utilize gravity and help apply pressure to the cervix for effacement and dilation.
Today, we are sharing with you a few positions we highly recommend for labor and birth. But remember, listen to your body and move how it leads you. Often, you intuitively know a position that will bring comfort and help you get closer to meeting your baby!
First Stage | Early Labor
Since early labor tends to be the longest part of labor, a lot of ignoring and resting positions are best! Wherever you are laboring, be sure to have a birth ball for resting and figure 8’s. Benefits: opens the pelvis, upright/gravity position, and providing space for baby without doing much physical work.
More positions for early labor: going for a walk (and curb walking), resting in bed with the peanut ball (or pillow) between your legs, and hands and knees.
First Stage | Active Labor
As labor continues on and contractions begin to take more focus, positions become a balance of comfort and promoting the progress of labor. Again, what is most important is finding what works best for you. In class or with your birth doula, we try many of these positions, though you may not use all of them, being familiar helps guide you as you work to find comfort in labor.
One of our favorite positions in active labor is using the toilet or chair to have the laboring mother rest on. If you’ve read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth book you know all about sphincter law. And the one place we naturally open, is the toilet. So turn the lights down low, grab a pillow and rest here for about 25-30 minutes. Benefits: can help bring the baby down (station), similar to the shape of a birth stool, and helps contractions to become stronger, longer and closer together.
When we really want to help promote space and descent of baby, squatting is one of the best positions to help. Though not often talked about, during our Spinning Babies training, we learned about the inlet and outlet of the pelvis. The station of baby coincides with where the baby is in the pelvis—higher in the pelvis is the outlet, lower in the pelvis is the inlet—and can help when determining the best position. Squatting is great to help open the outlet (and is often recommend for pushing)!
If we are experiencing the opposite of needing to open the inlet in labor (baby is sitting above the pubic bone), the abdominal lift and tuck can be a helpful position. We do encourage you to learn this position with your birth doula or birth team. Or Spinning Babies also offers parent classes to teach you in depth about labor and birth positions as well!
More positions for active labor: rotating through the positions mentioned above, going to the bathroom every hour, walking, resting with the peanut ball, sitting in the shower on the birth ball letting water run down your back, and hands and knees (as demonstrated below). Don’t be afraid to add in additional comfort measures including counter pressure, hip squeezes, heat packs, massage and much more.
First Stage | Transition
We are in the throws of labor as we enter transition. This can be the most intense part to labor, and that is because the body is dilating to complete in the shortest amount of time. Often positions may not bring comfort as they did before, but using the positions to get to the finish line can be even more effective. If the pressure is a lot during transition, hands and knees can help relieve the gravity pulling pressure, while allowing your body to still work effectively as it needs to get baby here. The added counter pressure can help reduce the intensity while bringing some comfort.
Labor positions have such great purpose in labor and birth from bringing comfort to promoting the optimal fetal position and progress of labor. When you hire us as your doula, we ensure demonstration and practice of each position to help familiarize yourself. In addition, our childbirth classes provide you with information on each position and practice with your birth partner!