Nowadays, most doctors will have you believe that the only way you can labor and subsequently push your baby out is in a hospital bed, on your back.
But that’s not true at all!
In fact! It’s actually the worst way for you to labor and deliver because you are quite literally working against gravity in this position! This is why mamas will sometimes stall after receiving an epidural, like I did for example. Not to say that epidurals are bad, however after receiving one you are often stuck in bed unable to move around which can sometimes work against you.
Good news for you: I’m here to show you SEVERAL other ways you can labor and push, none of which consist of you being flat on your back.
Exercise balls are a great way to get gravity working in your favor during labor. Not only does it keep your back upright (balance and all that jazz) but it also allows you to spread your legs out which in turn opens your hips which is precisely what baby needs to come down and engage! You can rock back and forth, do hip circles, or even bounce. Whatever feels the best for you at the time will work.
BONUS: leaning over the edge of the bed helps take pressure off your back if you are having back labor.
Since walking is one of the things your doctor will tell you to do before you are in labor to get things started, why wouldn’t it still help once you actually are in labor??
If you are delivering at a place like a birth center or at home, this one is easier to get away with. While they will let you walk at the hospital, its sometimes a struggle to talk them into taking off all of your monitoring. If you can make that happen, then walk on sister!
This is a GREAT way to not only labor but also deliver! Being on all fours not only relieves back labor, it also helps a baby turn if they are sunny side up! This position is also great if baby’s heart rate starts to decel. That’s because this position is known to increase baby’s oxygen rate! Being on all fours, like the exercise ball, also helps to open up your pelvis and help baby come down. I have had several mamas labor and one who actually delivered on all fours!
You ready for leg day??? If you are having frequent contractions but baby is not engaged, squats are a great way to help bring baby down. This position also helps with opening up the pelvis and it also helps baby to maneuver the birth canal. You can do regular squats like what you would do in the gym, or you can do like this mama and put one leg up to get those hips nice and open wide. Whichever way you choose, make sure either your labor partner, doula, a nurse, or midwife are there for support.
Yes this position is on your back, HOWEVER: it also pulls you up into a sitting position for pushing which helps in pushing baby down. For tug-of-war to work, you need a bed sheet and either a birthing bar or a super strong nurse/labor partner. This mama is using a the birthing bar because then the opposite end is stationary and more secure, and she can pull herself up the sheet.
Granted most hospitals aren’t equip with these, however if you have the opportunity to use one, I highly suggest taking advantage of it! Water has often been called mother nature’s natural epidural. Not only is the warmth super relaxing, water also offers the effect of buoyancy which promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation. This results in less pain for mama and more oxygen for baby. The water can also help you to not tear or tear less than you would if you weren’t in water. You can also labor as well as deliver in birthing tubs.
The birthing bar is like a mix between the birthing ball and squats. This mechanism is attached right to your bed and allows you to lean on it, or hang from it, in a squat position to open up your hips. Using a birthing bar also allows gravity to work in your favor and helps to being baby down. You can labor and deliver in this position.
Even if you do have an epidural, talk to your doctor about whether or not any of these are still an option for you! If you have decided not to get an epidural or if you plan to get one closer to push time, try any or all of these options to help move things along!