Pros and Cons of 11 Common Labor Positions

    By: Admin User on Mar 28, 2011
    By Paulina G. Perez, RN,BSN, CD, LCCE, FACCEMovement and positioning in labor work magic. Movement enhances comfort by stimulating the receptors in the brain that decrease pain perception. The result is that you are able to tolerate increasingly strong contractions. When contractions become very strong, endorphins are released and pain perception decreases even more. Ultimately, your movement in response to your contractions decreases pain and facilitates labor  a win-win. Movement also helps the baby move through the pelvis, and some positions enlarge pelvic diameters.The positions shown here facilitate the normal, natural process of labor. What position should you use? Follow your body. Move freely in response to what you feel. Your body will let you know just what position is best at every point in your labor..
    Standing Supported SquatSTANDING SUPPORTED SQUAT
    Pros Realigns your pelvis to increase the opening by up to 15 percentAllows you to be supported by your standing or sittingpartner, the wall or a squat barTakes advantage of gravityMakes contractions feel less painful and more productiveLengthens your trunk and helps your baby line up with the angle of your pelvisMovement causes changes in your pelvic joints, helping your baby through the birth canalMay increase your urge to push in the second stage of laborCons Requires a strong partner May be tiring for both of you..
    SITTING ON TOILET
    ProsHelps relax perineumYou get used to an open-leg position and pelvic pressureUses gravityConsPressure from toilet seat may be uncomfortable..
    SittingSittingSITTING
    ProsGood for restingUses gravityCan be used with continuous electronic fetal monitoring
    ConsMay not be possible if you have high blood pressure...
    SQUATTINGSquatting
    ProsEncourages rapid descentUses gravityMay increase rotation of babyAllows freedom to shift your weight for comfortAllows excellent perineal accessExcellent for fetal circulationMay increase pelvis diameter by as much as 2 centimetersRequires less bearing-down effortDescent is encouraged by the positionYour thighs keep baby well aligned
    ConsOften tiringSquattingSometimes hard for health-care provider to hear fetal heart tonesMay be hard for you to assist in birth if you wish to do so...
    SIDE-LYING
    ProsHelps get oxygen to the babyGood resting positionHelpful if you have elevated blood pressureFine with epiduralCan make contractions more effectiveEasier for you to relax between contractions during the second stageSide LyingCan slow a birth that's moving too fastYour partner can assist in the birth by supporting your legsLowers chances of tearing or the need for episiotomyGood access to perineumConsMay be hard for health-care provider to access fetal heart tonesNo help from gravityIf no one can hold your legs, you must support them on your ownYou may feel too passive in this position
    WALKING
    ProsUses gravityContractions are often less painfulBaby is well aligned in your pelvisMay speed laborReduces backacheEncourages descentConsNot recommended if you have high blood pressureCannot be used with continuous electronic fetal monitoring
    STANDING
    ProsUses gravityHelps get oxygen to the babyContractions are more effective and less painfulMay speed laborHelps create a pushing urgeConsPoor control at birthHard for health-care provider to see the baby
    LEANING OR KNEELING FORWARD WITH SUPPORT
    ProsCan help shift the baby if neededUses gravityBirth ball can be usedContractions are often less painfuland more productiveBaby is well aligned in your pelvisRelieves backache Easier for your partner to help relieve your back pain May be more restful than standing Good for pelvic rockingLess strain on your wrists and armsCons Hard for health-care provider to help with birth
    KNEE-CHEST
    ProsGood for back laborAssists with rotation of baby, if neededTakes pressure off hemorrhoidsGood position to avoid tearing or episiotomyGood delivery position for large babyHelpful if fetal heart tones are lowConsHard for your support team to maintain eye contact with youHard for you to see what's going on
    SEMI-SITTING
    ProsComfortableGood use of gravityGood resting positionWorks well in hospital bedsGood visibility at birth for your support teamEasy access to fetal heart tones foryour health-care providerConsAccess to your perineum can be poorMobility of your coccyx is impairedPuts some stress on your perineum but less than when lying on your back
    ON BACK WITH LEGS RAISED
    ConsWorks against gravityCompresses all major vesselsTearing or need for an episiotomy is more likelyNo use of gravity to aid in birth
    LEANING OR KNEELING FORWARD WITH SUPPORT
    ProsCan help shift the baby if neededUses gravityBirth ball can be usedContractions are often less painfuland more productiveBaby is well aligned in your pelvisRelieves backache Easier for your partner to help relieve your back pain May be more restful than standing Good for pelvic rockingLess strain on your wrists and armsCons Hard for health-care provider to help with birth
    KNEE-CHEST
    ProsGood for back laborAssists with rotation of baby, if neededTakes pressure off hemorrhoidsGood position to avoid tearing or episiotomyGood delivery position for large babyHelpful if fetal heart tones are lowConsHard for your support team to maintain eye contact with youHard for you to see what's going on
    SEMI-SITTING
    ProsComfortableGood use of gravityGood resting positionWorks well in hospital bedsGood visibility at birth for your support teamEasy access to fetal heart tones foryour health-care providerConsAccess to your perineum can be poorMobility of your coccyx is impairedPuts some stress on your perineum but less than when lying on your back
    ON BACK WITH LEGS RAISED
    ConsWorks against gravityCompresses all major vesselsTearing or need for an episiotomy is more likelyNo use of gravity to aid in birth
    Released: March 28, 2011, 12:00 am
    Keywords: Birth | Birth | Coping with pain |


    You must create an account or login with your existing account to provide article ratings.

    Giving Birth with Confidence

    Real women sharing stories, finding answers and supporting each other.



    Copyright 2014 Lamaze International. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement | Terms of Use