The way in which your body is positioned in labor is crucial to how your labor progresses. Resistance positions and those that do not open the pelvis promote inhibit progression through the stages of labor. It can be shocking when the contractions start, especially if it is abruptly, but it can be managed with different methods of counter-pressure and pain relief.
In early labor, namely, before an active contracting pattern is established, there are not too many positions you need. Some good things to remember are that if you feel small contractions you may be in labor or it could be false labor. Contractions can start in your back or thighs as well as the uterus region.
In early labor, try getting as much sleep as you can. If you are not sleeping, it is best to be standing or go for a walk. The gravity will help engage the baby with the pelvis and get things moving further along. At this stage you may want to make a meal and feed yourself - you have a lot of work ahead. Watch a movie and keep the mood light while you sit on your birth ball. A little laughter helps contractions progress.
When the contractions grow regular and the pressure builds, a good place to resort is a shower or the ball. In the shower, you can sit on a sturdy chair and let the water run down your back. A toilet is a surprising place that can bring privacy and open your pelvis further. The birth ball has the same effect of opening the pelvis, and the constant movement allows your to ‘wiggle’ the baby further down into a suitable position in the pelvis.
It is best to establish a rhythm or routine for every-time a contraction arises. This will help you cope in a manageable and predictable way. Also, taking a rest is fine, but alternating to standing positions will help the labor continue to progress at a better rate. Another method for resting is to lie on all-fours over the birth ball with your belly in the middle. This allows for an open pelvis and some lying down. Place a pillow under the knees for more comfort.
At this stage, a bath may be considered depending on your development and situation. If you have progressed enough, or need to loosen up more, a bath can be beneficial for relaxing you. The water acts as a pain reliever to take some pressure off your body. Side-Lying with pillows between your knees can also be helpful in relaxing the body and keeping the pelvis open. Your healthcare provider may check to make sure the baby likes it on the side on which you are lying.
It is important to note, if you have an epidural, you are not allowed to walk around and need to stay in your bed. There are plenty of positions for all phases of labor and delivery that can accommodate epidurals. A peanut ball is a great tool for different positions after an epidural. Ask your doula is she carries one, or if that is something the hospital keeps ready for patients.
Before you know it, you are at the stage where you are ready to deliver your baby. There are many positions suitable for delivery besides just on your back. However, in hospitals, this tends to be the go-to position. Whichever the position and you may try many, the spine will be curved in a C-shape and the legs will be bent (often held by you or helpers). This position, but on your side is possible for delivery as well as lying on your back with pillows propping you up.
One method of counter pressure for delivery is to pull on a scarf or sheet while someone firmly holds the other end. This will help you focus on pushing your baby out your perineal area. A squat bar does this efficiently and is often accessible in many hospitals.
For all the different types, locations, and methods of labor and delivery, keeping it moving is key. Standing positions utilizing your partner or doula, such as ‘tree’ or ‘slow-dancing’ are the perfect way to keep the movement and get baby ready for delivery. Switching positions until you find the ones that best for your is important.