As your pregnancy approaches week forty, few things will be on your mind as much as what to expect in labour. It is the one thing we hear about from before conception and all the way through pregnancy. Unfortunately, many stories that are shared are horror stories. Coping techniques do not seem to stay in the mind the same way.
If you have done some preparation before going into labour, you can manage better. The support people in your life can help you. We have assembled a list of commonly used positions to help labour progress, get baby moving and help you cope. This list contains the most popular positions that women have found helped them through labour.
Practicing these ahead of time can help you know the positions when the time comes. That will make it easier for you to shift between them and identify what works most comfortably for you.
Remember to breathe. Rhythmic breathing during labour maximises the amount of oxygen available to you and your baby. Breathing techniques can also help you cope with the pain of contractions.
Do some research. A quick online search can provide even more positions and breathing techniques. Talk to your midwife, doula or physician as they will have more suggestions.
What it does: Gives you an opportunity to relax all your muscles and to regain energy by resting. How it is done: Lay down on your side on a comfortable surface. Use pillows to support your head, arms and legs in the way you find most comfortable and relaxing.
2. Knees to chest
What it does: This position helps to open the pelvis and allows your support person to rub your back to relieve pressure. How it is done: It is similar to Child’s Resting Pose in yoga. Start on all fours. Lower your shoulders to the ground with arms stretched out front, so your bum is up in the air. Spread your knees apart to allow room for your belly to go between them; your bum will lower slightly.
3. The dance
What it does: Encourages baby to move into the pelvis with the help of gravity. How it is done: Stand facing your support person. Place your arms around their neck and shoulders. Rest your head on their shoulder or chest depending on their height. Your support person’s arms come around you, clasp at the back. Sway back and forth together. This position allows your support person to rub your back. The closeness of the position may allow you to feel more emotionally supported.
What it does: Realigns and opens the pelvis. It uses gravity to help baby make her way down and may help with stage two pushing. This position is not recommended for early labour. How it is done: Stand with feet apart and lower bum down as though you are going to sit on a chair. Your support person can help you with balance. It can be done with a squatting bar or birthing ball if available to support your weight. Hold the squat position through a contraction and relax when contraction is done.
5. Tug of war
What it does: The act of pulling against resistance engages the abdominal muscles that are needed to push effectively. How it is done: You and your support person each hold an end of a towel or cord. During a contraction, pull on one end while your support person provides resistance on the other. Additional support is very important to ensure you do not lose your balance.
6. Shower or tub
What it does: The warmth provides some relaxation and relief from the contractions. Many women find contractions easier to get through in the warmth of a tub or shower. How it is done: Simply get in a warm tub or shower.
7. Toilet sitting
What it does: Uses gravity to encourage effective contractions and movement of baby. How it is done: Sit facing forward on a toilet with your support person in front of you. Lean forward onto your support person through contractions. Alternately, sit facing the back of the toilet and lean your head on a pillow over the toilet tank through contractions. Your support person is able to apply counter pressure by rubbing your back in this position.
8. Hands and knees
What it does: Helps to relieve pressure on the back from back labour. How it is done: Get down on your hands and knees, as in pretending to be a dog or cat. Alternatives include putting hands on an exercise ball or on a chair. It is easy for you to rock in this position to reduce the feeling of pressure.
Published in Birthing Magazine, Winter 2009
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice from your primary healthcare provider. Always consult your healthcare professional.