Healthy Birth Practice 2:
Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor
Adapted from The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence
Moving in labor serves two very important purposes. First, it helps you cope with increasingly strong and painful contractions, which signals your body to keep labor going. Second, it helps gently wiggle your baby into your pelvis and through your birth canal.
- Download the guide, Walk, Move Around, and Change Positions Throughout Labor, to learn more about the importance of movement in labor.
- Learn some tips for maintaining freedom of movement in labor.
- Discover how to keep your birth as natural as possible if your movement is restricted.
- Watch the video below about natural birth to see how movement is used throughout labor.
Walk, Move, Change Positions
A. Women who are moving around and use upright positions during labor have shorter labors, less intervention, report less severe pain, and describe more satisfaction with their childbirth experience than women in recumbent positions.
B. Changing position frequently moves the bones of the pelvis, helping the baby find the best fit to come down.
C. Moving around can also help prevent c-section by reducing the chances of a stall of labor or shortening the amount of time a stall lasts; especially in early labor.
For back labor: hang your belly underneath you as much as possible; have your partner press on your sacrum or squeeze both your hips at the same time; sit backwards on a chair or the toilet; move your pelvis in a hula-hoop motion to help encourage the baby to rotate.
For long labors: get as much rest between contractions as you can. If you can fall asleep, that’s excellent! Be sure you are staying hydrated (try to sip water between each contraction or every few contractions).
Partners: you may need to highly encourage Mom to eat something if she has not eaten in several hours. Having a baby is akin to running a marathon – Mom needs adequate nutrition and hydration to keep going. Some ideas: small amounts of cheese (1 oz), fruit, veggie pieces, rice cakes, honey sticks (can often be found at Farmer’s Markets). Stay away from heavy foods that may cause GI upset or nausea. Make sure you are eating and taking care of your needs as well so you can better support Mom!
Homework / Tips / Three Rs
Have your partner use the app to time a 1-minute “contraction” while you hold an ice cube in your hand. Feel free to try different relaxation techniques to take your mind off the cold sensation! Do this at least 3 times to help you and your partner become familiar with the app and know how to use it to time real contractions when the time comes.
We highly recommend downloading the free app iBirth to help time your contractions. There are 2 in-app purchases for $0.99. The videos are excellent for showing labor positions.