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Birthing positions

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Anyone who’s given birth will know how restless you feel as you try to get comfortable during the long and painful hours of labour. If it’s your first child, you probably imagine yourself lying on a hospital bed, legs akimbo, birthing partner at your side mopping your brow lovingly with a wet flannel. This may be well and good for the women out there whose babies pop out in a matter of minutes, but for anyone else that bed soon becomes restrictive. Obviously you should seek advice and guidance from your midwife – especially if there are extenuating circumstances surrounding your pregnancy to consider – but there are a range of other birthing  positions you could try during labour.

Keep on moving

It’s now commonly accepted that moving around and keeping as upright as possible is the best way to help labour progress and to help you cope better.

Let gravity do the work

Staying upright, and in particular standing, can help with early labour as it enables your baby’s head to descend and put pressure on the cervix, in turn encouraging contractions. Leaning forward at the same time also helps relieve pressure on the back.

It’s all in the hips

Swaying or rotating the hips in this position can also help ease the pain of contractions. You can lean against a door, wall, the bed, a worktop, or your partner – whatever is most comfortable.

Take a break

However, it’s also important not to tire yourself out too much before labour is properly established, so make sure you rest when you need to by sitting or lying down. Lying on the bed on your left side is a great position for taking five.

birthing positions

Sitting up

If you prefer sitting during the early stages, sit as upright as possible to assist gravity and help the baby press down. Kneeling and leaning forward onto a birthing ball is also a good position for labour.

When your contractions get stronger, you’ll want to find the positions that best help you to focus and concentrate on what is happening. Your midwife should help and encourage you to find the best one.

Head to the loo

As odd as it sounds, sitting on the toilet is great for the second stage of labour as the urge to push can feel similar to that of opening your bowels, so sitting in that position helps you to relax all those muscles and relieve the pressure. It’s also good for opening the pelvis to help the baby’s head make its way downwards.

Squat

One of the most natural positions for women to give birth in is squatting as it enables you to push effectively. It can also be helpful if progress is slow as it opens the pelvis and increases the size of the birth canal. Chances are you’ll need your birthing partner or midwife – or both – to support you. It can get tiring quickly though, especially if you’ve had a long labour.

Make yourself comfortable

If you do get really tired and just want to lie down on the bed, you could use pillows or wedges to help support you on your side.

What’s important is that you and your baby are comfortable and baby is delivered safely.

 

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