Since labor can last from a few hours to a few days it is really great to have a great array of positions to try at your fingertips. Some caregivers are really good about encouraging you to change positions throughout your labor and during the pushing stage as well. If your labor is quick there is less need for this.
Below I have summarized some positions that can help you through your labor, the image is also a great tool.
Positions to Relieve Back Pain
- Any leaning forward position will help to alleviate back pain as gravity will pull baby toward your belly as opposed to your back. If you are experiencing back labor going on all fours or having your bum up in the air with your hips wide and your head resting on a pillow can be helpful (many children instinctively sleep in this position when they are young)
- Movement can also help with back labor, walking, being on all fours and swaying your hips, using a birthing ball and rocking can also help
- Sometimes labor can slow down, ways to help keep it going are by using gravity in your favor; stand up, walk if you are able, hold on to your partners neck and sway back and forth doing a little dance
- Try doing some gentle squats and lunges to help encourage your baby further into your pelvis which should help contractions along, I have done stairs with some of my clients which can help too (do not overdue it or tire yourself out)
- Gravity is your friend in a long labor, gravity is also baby's friend and helps baby move further into the birth canal, movement during labor is key to helping your baby meet you sooner
- If you are told your baby is not in the most optimal position (occiput posterior or sunny-side up with their spine against your spine is quite common and ideally you want baby to be occiput anterior where their spine is against your belly) you can again get on all fours to try to promote baby to flip, hip swaying and hip circles in this position can be beneficial as well
- Pushing can last for a few minutes to a few hours, the longer it lasts the more I would encourage you to change positions if you are able and see if one yields greater results, when you are pushing you want to create as much room for baby as possible
- Squatting will provide the most space in your pelvis for baby to pass through, you can ask about a birthing stool which supports you in a squatting position so you do not strain your legs
- Kneeling or being on all fours can also help with the position of your pelvis and gravity is still working for you rather than against you
- Some of you might be reading this thinking why on Earth would someone ever want to slow down labor, well if labor comes on very quickly you may be at home, in your car or somewhere else you might not wish to be giving birth. You could also be in the hospital and for some medical reason they want to slow things down. You can lie on your back with your bottom elevated and your feet in the air if possible (almost like the position you see women give birth in in the movies so if you do not want to slow your labor down I would suggest not birthing in this position)
To recap there are plenty of positions you can labor and birth in, being open to trying new positions and changing it up will benefit you during this last step on your journey to parenthood. Talk to your care provider during prenatal appointments about positions and ensure they are happy to support you in whatever position you feel is best for your baby (as long as there is no medical reason suggesting this position is not good for you and/or baby).
Happy Pushing :)