If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably already started hearing about which is the “best” method of delivery and the “ideal” position for labor. But here’s why you shouldn’t stress out about it ahead of time: All women are built differently, babies are different sizes, and babies rest in different positions. The method of delivery that your best friend found to be most comfortable could be incredibly awkward for you. Similarly, the position that gave you the most relief during your first pregnancy could feel uncomfortable the second time around. That’s why the best thing you can do for yourself beforehand is to educate yourself on various positions so that when the time comes you’ll know what to try.
Some popular birthing positions include:
Squatting: Squatting feels to many moms like the most “natural” position for giving birth. Keeping your body relatively upright can help the baby slide into position, and your pelvis expands when you are down in a squatting position. When a woman is squatting, it can be easier for her to push and for gravity to help the baby slide right out. Additionally, if you’re not comfortable holding a squatting position, there are special birthing chairs that can assist you. However, you should be aware that the pressure and stretching in the squatting position may create a greater risk of tearing the perineum.
Sitting: Some moms find it more comfortable to remain sitting on a bed or on pillows, supported by a partner/helper from behind, or leaning up against the back of the bed. You can experiment with pillows in various places to support your legs in this position. Then, when it’s time to push, you can hug your legs closer to your body.
Kneeling: You may choose to kneel either on the floor (with pillows underneath your knees) or on a bed. Some moms even prefer to be on their hands and knees on a bed, because it allows them to rock back and forth with the contractions, and arch their back to minimize pain. When it is time to push, you can modify this position by easing down with your knees closer to your chest.
Hanging: In this position, a woman is supported from behind by her partner/helper, who holds her under her arms and allows her to “hang out” for the delivery. Sounds almost relaxing, right? The disadvantage is that this position may only work for as long as you have a helper or partner who is able to hold you.
Side-lying: Some moms prefer to stay lying down in the bed, in which case side-lying might make sense. While you are lying on your side, you can curl up and have your partner hold/support your top leg.
In water: Don’t forget about water-birthing, which is a whole other method of delivery you might want to investigate. Some of the above positions can be adapted for use in a birthing tub (which should be large enough for you to move around and make yourself comfortable).
Keep in mind that some or all of these positions may be unavailable to you if you have had an epidural and you are confined to a hospital bed. If you plan on getting an epidural, you may want to ask your doctor ahead of time if he or she would be willing to work with you to find a comfortable position as labor progresses.
Last but not least, don’t get stuck on any one birthing method as “the way” for you. Babies are notoriously unpredictable, and your baby may just decide to complicate things and throw your birth plan right out the window. If that’s the case, don’t get hung up on how you didn’t get to do it your “ideal” way. In the end, what really counts is that you have successfully delivered a beautiful, healthy baby.