Learning childbirth positions before going into labor is a very good way to empower yourself on your upcoming birthing experience and boost your sense of confidence about having a natural childbirth.
Before going into the various positions of labor and delivery, let's review the stages of labor. Each stage of labor requires specific childbirth positions to help move things along.
Labor is divide into 3 stages and each stage can be further divided into phases.
First Stage Of Labor
This stage can be the longest and it begins from the time your labor starts until your cervix is fully dilated, which is when you reach about 10 centimetres.
Depending on how dilated you are, this stage is divided further into 3 phases:
1. Early Labor Phase
In early labor you begin feeling contractions that may be about 45 minutes apart and you may get up to 3 cm dilated.
2. Active Labor Phase
In active labor, your contractions become stronger and closer together and your cervix becomes 7 cm dilated. This phase can last 6-8 hours depending on how fast you dilate. If this is your first child, it will take longer than in subsequent pregnancies.
3. Transition Phase
During this phase you go from 7 to 10 cm and the baby comes down the pelvis until he is ready to be delivered.
Second Stage Of Labor
When you reach second stage, you are ready to push the baby. You are fully dilated and the baby is crowning. This stage may be very fast like 20 minutes or take up to two hours.
Your contractions will be really strong and closer together.
Each contraction may last up to 90 minutes with intervals of 2-4 minutes to give you some rest.
Third Stage Of Labor
During the third stage of labor, the placenta is delivered. This stage is very short and it may last between five to thirty minutes.
You will not feel as much pain as when you delivered your baby, but the contractions will be coming and they are called "after pains."
Vertical Birthing Positions:
In the early stages of labor, you will have contractions every 30-45 minutes. This will give you time to move around.
Staying in an upright position during early labor will help baby descend into your pelvis. If the baby is posterior, during this time you can use the following positions to encourage the head to rotate into a posterior position.
Walking around will be very good to help your contractions come closer and stronger together.
This position is very conformable during early labor. Tuck your pelvis under, making sure your lower back is flat. Lean on your partner and sway back and forth as if you were slow dancing.
If you feel tired on during each contraction you can sit. The best place is to sit on a birthing ball. Make sure to keep your knees lower that your hips to allow baby's rotation.
This is a very useful technique you can use during early labor to help deal with your contractions, rotate a baby from posterior to anterior, and help decrease groin or back pain.
To execute this technique, interlace your fingers and lift your belly up and hold during each contraction while breathing steadily.
Make sure to tuck your pelvis by flattening your lower back.
You can lean on the bed or the birthing ball by a standing position during each contraction. This position helps:
1. Ease back pain
2. Turn baby's head to posterior
3. Strengthen contractions
4. Encourage baby's alignment inside your pelvic bones
Hands and Knees
This position is very comfortable to be used during active labor, when your contractions more intense. This position does not use gravity to help bring the baby down your pelvis, but it releases back pain.
You can simply stay on all fours on top of your bed, or lean over a birthing ball while on your knees.
Asymmetrical Birthing Positions:
These childbirth positions encourage the baby to turn from a bridged position to head down, or turn baby's head from posterior to anterior.
These position involves putting your hips at different levels by lifting one leg up. This allows for more room for your baby.
Climbing The Stairs
Climb the stairs. You can climb sideways to increase the uneven level of your hips. Make sure you are helped by someone.
This birthing position can be done on the bed during contractions to help baby rotate.
You can do both sides or the side that feels best to you. Make sure there is someone next to you to provide support.
This position can be used at each stage of labor, but especially in active labor to help create more room for baby. This position keeps your hips uneven helping baby descend into your pelvic bones faster.
This position is done by placing one foot on a chair. Make sure your foot is pointing outward.
Then bend your hip toward the knee that is up and hold this stretch for 10 seconds during contractions and then release and repeat until the contraction is over.
Repeat on the other side or do the side that feels more comfortable.
Side Lying Positions
Side lying is very important when you feel tired during labor. This type of birthing positions are also great to try if you have an epidural. Lie on your side and use pillows for support. Use one under your raised knee and one behind your back.
This video shows you all the first stages of labor childbirth positions you can use as your contractions become stronger and your cervix continues to dilate.
The following positions are great to use during the pushing stage of your labor.
Note: Many midwives and obstetricians refer to this final stage as the "pushing time." I would like to point out the less time you spend pushing the better for you.
This will prevent tearing in your perineal region. Small tears can be expected, but it would be better to avoid a long pushing stage to prevent deep tissue tears.
The best way is to be so relaxed to the point of "breathing the baby out," where little or no effort is required. This type of natural birth is ideal for both mother and child.
Also, I would not recommend, if possible, the classical lying flat on your back position, because it does not give you any gravity advantage and does not offer room to the baby.
Of course this birthing position is preferred by many obstetricians because it provides access to catch the baby. It should be used only if needed.
Birthing The Baby
The childbirth positions are the most commonly used to birth the baby during second stage are:
Note: Make sure to keep your chin down toward your breastbone, open your jaw and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This helps relax and facilitate opening of the pelvic outlet during childbirth.
Squatting during birth helps to maximize the opening of your pelvis. If your pelvic bones are narrow, squalling can increase the width of your pelvic outlet of a our one to two centimetres.
Squatting is a very popular position because it takes advantage of gravity to push the baby out so that you will need less effort and less bearing down.
This position also helps the baby's head to rotate while descending down. Most birthing beds at the hospital have birthing bars where you can hold onto while squatting to give you balance and support.
If you are giving birth at home, use squatting by holding on to something steady. You can also use a semi-squatting position by using a birthing stool.
A sitting position during birth is used to give you rest if you get tired. Sitting is also useful if you need to wear a fetal monitor.
You can sit on the toilet a few contractions before pushing keeping your arms up to help your baby come down.
Sitting on the toilet can speed things up for you, but do not give birth on the toilet. Sitting on a birthing stool would be better because you can actually give birth.
Hands and Kees
This position is used to relieve back pain as it brings the baby to come forward.
This position helps baby's head rotation, if the baby is posterior. If the baby does not.
Turn and chooses to be born sunny side up, this position is ideal.
Lying On Your Side
This position is used when the delivery is going to fast. It helps to slow down a fast labor or it is used with fetal monitoring.
If you get tired and need a break, this is a good position. You can raise one knee up and push the baby out in this position.
This video shows you all the birthing positions I just described. This video gives you lots of tips you can use during your baby.
As you can see there are many birthing positions you can use during birth, your midwife or doula will be able to guide you in this.
Just relax and trust your inner guidance.