No, don’t worry, I haven’t gone all Scientology on you! I’m actually talking about the best positions for labour.
Upright. Forward. Open.
You may have already heard that labouring on your back is quite possibly the worst position you can give birth in. The main reasons for this are:
GravityWhen you’re laying down on your back you’re not working with gravity. The coccyx curves inwards (upwards when laying on your back) but it naturally moves out of the way when you’re giving birth. Unless of course you’re laying on your back. Then it has no space to move out of the way. Your baby’s head will be pushing against it as it’s trying to move down the birth canal. It's kind of like putting a speed hump in a tube tunnel! Not only are you working against gravity your baby’s head has a curved bone right in its path.
Pelvic area spaceIf you’re on your back your pelvic area is squashed and actually has less space for your baby to pass through it. It’s open about 30% more when you’re in an upright position. That is a pretty, damn big difference in space. Having that extra room will make a huge difference when you’re trying to ease a baby through that area.
Blood vessels constrictedI’m sure you’ve probably already felt how uncomfortable it is when you have a big bump and lay down on your back. In fact, the advice is to sleep on your side during pregnancy, not on your back. The reason for this is that you’re constricting important blood vessels. Theses blood vessels are supplying blood (and oxygen) to the placenta (and your baby). So makes total sense that you also would not want to be laying on your back when in labour right? Your muscles need the blood and oxygen to work properly and your baby definitely needs to them!
So what positions are best? UFO of course!
If you’re upright you’re working with gravity. That baby has to come out, why not let one of the most powerful forces of nature help? Working with gravity means your labour will be quicker too, woohoo!
If you’re leaning forwards then you’re opening up your pelvic area. Many women naturally lean forwards during their labours. In early stages they put their arms around their partners neck and lean into him. Then, as labour progresses, she’s often found on all fours or leaning over something (bed/sofa). Women don’t generally think about these positions, they just naturally go into them. Your body instinctively knows the best position to be in, trust your body. Do what's right for you, not what's easier for a midwife or doctor.
By being in an upright and forward position your body will automatically be more open. These positions (squatting, leaning over something, on all fours, kneeling) all help by reducing the length of the birth canal. Shorter birth canal means baby has a shorter distance to go to get to the outside world (and into your arms!).
CUB USA (Comfortable Upright Birth) have done some research and found UFO positions are better for birthing because:
They allow for 28-30% more space in the pelvis
They make surges more effective
You’ll be 23% less likely to need medical intervention
Your baby is 54% less likely to become distressed
They reduce c-section rates by 29%
You’ll have a shorter labour
They reduce episiotomy rates by 21%
There’s less need for an epidural
What’s not to love about these benefits? You can make such a big (and positive) impact on the outcome of your birth just by arming yourself with knowledge. For even more evidence based information about birth sign up to one of my hypnobirthing classes. This is just a tiny slice of the sort of things we discuss and all of it is designed to help you have a better birth! Hooray!