There is no one position that fits all during labor. However, experimenting with a variety of them can help a woman relieve discomfort in her lower abdomen, back and pelvic floor, according to Dr. Doerthe Brueggmann, Los Angeles-based obstetrician-gynecologist with Health Goes Female. Choosing the best position to alleviate pain involves trial and error.
It's not unusual for a woman to struggle to find the right labor position. “A woman may need to change positions several times during her course of labor depending on what is happening to the baby at that time or to better assist her pushing efforts,” says Brueggmann. She says you just need to settle on what makes you feel the most comfortable in the moment. It could be standing, squatting, sitting or lying down, but there's no danger in switching to something else.
Squat and Rock
An expecting mom needs to do what feels best for her at the time with cues from her body, says Melissa Troncale, an Arizona-based midwife with MomDoc Midwives. For many, a squatting position may work best when contractions come faster and the pain is intense. She says to start experimenting with a semi-squatting position while swaying back and forth. “This position provides the baby with a wider pelvic diameter and it helps to relieve back pain,” she says.
Assume All Fours
One of the most common labor positions involves placing your hands and knees on the floor in an all-four stance, says Troncale. It helps get a mother through labor pain because it eliminates the weight of the belly, she says. Moms should practice this position in the early stages of labor before the more intense contractions occur, says Troncale.
You can research the various positions months or weeks prior to your delivery. You can straddle a chair, walk, stand, squat or sit on an exercise ball during contractions, but knowing your options prior to labor is crucial, says Dr. Draion Burch, Pennsylvania-based obstetrician-gynecologist. “Naturally your body will change positions to help you relax more, so the best position is the one that makes you feel no pain,” he says.