Finding the best birthing positions for you and baby starts with knowing what your options are. By knowing what your options are ahead of time, it makes it easier to move through labor and delivery. If you’ve ever watched a TV show or movie where someone gives birth, you might think the only option is to lay on your back. Furthermore, there are a variety of positions that can improve things for you, baby, and your pelvic floor. With every position, there are pros and cons. That’s why it’s best to know all the birthing position options to help you decide what’s most important to you.
Best Birthing Positions for You and Baby: Pros and Cons
Birthing Position: Side-lying
Lying on your side can be a very helpful position during labor in order to allow for rest, but it can also be used as a position to actually give birth in. While in side-lying, you can use a peanut ball or pillows between your legs until baby is ready to arrive. When you are ready to actually push, your partner or support person can help by supporting your top leg.
- Decreased risk of pelvic floor tearing
- Decreases back/ tailbone pain
- Pelvic floor muscles can relax more easily
- Gravity cannot assist as much to help baby descend
- May be difficult to generate force in this position
- A second person may be needed to support top leg
Birthing Position: Squatting
Squatting during birth can be a great position when you need some help from gravity. Additionally, it is a natural position for the pelvic floor muscles to relax in as well.
- Gravity helps baby descend
- Helps the pelvis to open up
- Typically less instrument assistance required with a squatting position
- Will likely need upper body support or to hold onto something
- Can increase risk of tearing if squatting speeds up the rate of birth
- Possibility for increased blood loss
- Can be difficult to maintain if you’re very fatigued
Birthing Position: All-Fours/ Quadruped
All-fours position, or quadruped/ kneeling, can be a great position to allow for a degree of rest for mom. However, it can take a lot of strength for the arms to support you, but it’s possible to hold onto something or someone to assist with that.
- Decreases pressure on back
- Less painful if SI joint pain was present during pregnancy
- Can be helpful if tailbone pain was present during pregnancy
- Decreases risk of pelvic floor tearing
- May be difficult for fetal monitoring
Birthing Position: On Your Back/ Semi-Reclining
Semi-reclined or on your back is probably the most widely used position, however, I’d recommend this one the least. It is not an inherently bad position, but there are just many better options. In contrast, there are some benefits to a semi-reclined or back position.
- Allows for relative rest
- If legs are supported appropriately, it can help SI joint or pubic bone pain
- Increased back pain
- Not a lot of room for the tailbone to move
- Gravity isn’t assisting
Birthing Position: Birthing Bar
Using a birthing bar or support can be very helpful during birth. The birthing bar is a tool that can be added to the hospital bed. You can hold onto the bar or put a towel onto it to hang onto.
- Gravity helps assist baby down
- Provides upper body support
- Helps open the pelvis
- May not be available at all hospitals
- Possible risk for increased blood loss
So what’s the best birthing position for you and baby?
Ultimately, this is a decision that you have to decide for yourself and with your provider and/or support person. The best position will be dependent on your comfort level and what’s appropriate at the time.