Time to bring out those squats you honed in your body pump class and get your birth position sorted...
Gone are the days when labour was all about lying back. Staying upright and active can help your baby arrive faster and protect you from tears. Try these midwife-recommended moves to help speed up your delivery.
Stand with your knees bent and lean forward over a bed, chair or sofa, to get labour going in the early stages. ‘This position uses gravity to help your baby move down,’ says midwife Denise Linay. You may get tired quite quickly, though, so alternate with sitting positions.
Nothing happening? Pace through your house or around the hospital. ‘Moving around during early labour encourages your baby’s head to move down and, as an added bonus, it may take your mind off the pain of your contractions,’ says Denise. However, if your baby needs to be monitored or you have an epidural, this will restrict how far you can walk.
Sit on a birth ball with your knees apart or sit back-to-front on a chair with no arms. Tilt forward so your tummy’s between your knees. ‘You’re still working with gravity to help things along, but this position also allows you to relax between contractions,’ says Denise.
When it comes to the second stage of labour, get on your haunches with your partner sitting on a chair in front of you. This is great position if you're having a water birth, too. Rest your back against his legs, with your arms along his thighs. ‘You’re less likely to have a tear in this position, as this gives your baby more space to arrive,’ says Denise.
Kneeling on a mat or on a bed, go into an all-fours position. You can either rest on your hands or, if that’s too tiring, lean down onto your elbows between contractions. ‘This is a great position for pushing out your baby,’ says Denise. ‘Your pelvis will be open and gravity will be able to propel delivery. This should make the pushing stage shorter and less painful for you.’ It’s also a great position for getting your partner to massage your back. Your knees may start to ache after a while, so rest on a yoga mat. ‘It can help to change position occasionally, too, to take the pressure off them,’ says Denise.
Get on the floor and spread your knees hip-width apart, then lean over a birth ball or bed. ‘While this may really ease the pressure for you, it’s a tricky position for a midwife to see what’s going on, so you may have to move into all fours at the end,’ says Denise.