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Labor Positions

Labor is tough, which is probably why it's called "labor." Let's discuss some birthing positions that can help support your delivery…

Lean forward position 

It is common for many of us to naturally lean forward during labor. To find a good surface to lean over, you can lay a pillow down and rest your head in between contractions. This position also allows access to your lower back, so your birth partner or doula can provide relief by doing a double hip squeeze or applying sacral pressure to help alleviate the intensity of the contractions.

Toilet position

Did you know that sitting on the toilet can help accelerate the progress of labor? It can bring the baby down even lower into the pelvis. This position can feel much more intense because it's working to bring the baby down. Also, when you're sitting on a toilet, your inhibitions let go a little because we're used to releasing in the bathroom. You may find it helpful to dim the lights, light some candles, or use battery-operated candles if you're in a hospital bathroom. Taking these steps can help you find some privacy and peace during labor.

Hands and knees position

Another great position is hands and knees, especially if we suspect the baby is not in an ideal position during the labor process. I would encourage you to be on a bed or a yoga mat so that your hands and knees are being supported. Or alternatively, you can be on your hands and knees in the shower, letting the water run on your lower back can be a great pain coping method. We love, love, love water as a tool.

Exercise ball position

While sitting on an exercise ball, you can lean forward on a bed and rest your head in between contractions. It also leaves your lower back area open for someone to support you with a double hip squeeze or some sacral pressure. This is a great position because in between contractions, you can bounce or do figure eights on the exercise ball, which helps to open up the pelvis and bring the baby down.

The big tree position

Another great position that I call “the big tree” position is where you wrap your arms around your birth partner, and you can hang from them in between contractions. This also uses gravity to bring the baby down and can also allow you to move your hips and shake out any tension that you might be holding. 

Epidural positions

For people who utilize an epidural, one of our favorite tools is a peanut ball. Laying on your side with a peanut ball in between your legs can help keep the pelvis open and allow for the baby to continue to descend. When you have an epidural, you're not able to get up and move around in the same way. We have to utilize gravity in more creative ways. We can also put the bed in a throne-like position. You can sit up and lower your feet and your support team can prop you up with pillows.

Labor stalls

What if labor stalls? In this case, it's helpful to encourage movement such as going on walks, stepping up and down on the curb, and walking up and down steps. Doing these activities can help to encourage the labor process, particularly if things seem to have slowed down. Walking between contractions can speed up labor for many people and movement can also help to alleviate the pain of labor. 

There are so many positions to explore. Taking the time to understand them could open up your mind to explore all your options for your labor experience.  And if you want to learn more, check out this guide The Labor & Postpartum Prep Deck with Bodily! This handy deck covers 3 key topics: Labor (including Carriage House Birth doula-recommended tips and tools), the first weeks of postpartum, and breastfeeding. Equip yourself with knowledge and resources, and you will find your inner calm to guide yourself through labor with confidence. 


Top Photo: Gaia Birth

Photo:  Naomi Vonk