Labor! Countless books are written about labor and birth and how to do it "right." In reality there are lots of labor positions that really work. And while we complicate labor and talk endlessly about birth, in a lot of ways it is pretty simple. The things that we would do for comfort and pain relief in real life often work in labor.
Walking, slow dancing, standing, moving, swaying your hips - these are all things that can work in real life and in real labor. Standing labor positions are great for early labor when you have energy and want things to move along as normal. Being in labor doesn't mean that you need to lie down and play dead. Go about your life for as long as possible, and remember that gravity is your friend when you are in labor. Your childbirth class will give you more ideas for standing labor positions and give you the chance to practice with your partner.
Squatting is a great exercise for pregnancy, as well as a labor position. While you may not want to squat in early labor, once the baby is low and well engaged and positioned, squatting can help speed labor and even be a really comfortable position for birth. Because squatting, especially a deep birthing squat, isn't something that many Westerners do on a regular basis, you might want to practice as an exercise during pregnancy so that you are strong and prepared for birth.
3. Hands and Knees
Hands and knees can be an amazing position for labor that really works. Like squatting, it is also great to prepare for during pregnancy via exercise. There are tons of variations of this position that may work well for you. Try leaning on a birth ball and rocking your hips for both arm support, mobility and the benefits of movement. Leaning on a couch is also a variation that works great and is available to anyone. Your doula may bring a birth ball for you, or may want you to get your own. Don't worry, they come in handy after birth too!
Walking, squatting, hands and knees - these all sound like labor positions that make you tired and sore! Birth isn't just about work though, you also need rest. Lying in whatever position was comfortable and safe for you during the end of pregnancy, is probably also a great way to rest during labor. For most women this is on their left side with pillows used to prop so you can feel totally comfortable and relaxed. Cuddle up during your labor and rest every now and again so that you can go the distance. Plus, if labor is fast and you need to slow it a little, lying can help with that while the midwife arrives or your partner packs the car.
Sitting is another thing that can really work for labor. It gives the benefit of using gravity, like a standing labor position, while also letting you rest. In fact, once in labor, some women don't feel comfortable lying on their side. Propping themselves up with pillows under their arms and legs for maximum relaxation, can help you labor and allow you to nod off between your contractions and get some rest. (Yes, you can sleep in labor! In fact, you should!)
Leaning is really another standing labor position, but it can also be a great way to relax and sway while utilizing gravity. Leaning against your partner, your counter, your shower wall or a squat bar in a hospital bed are all ways that you can relax during contractions. Leaning forward also gives you the benefit of taking some pressure off your back if you are feeling the dreaded "back labor" due to a posterior positioned baby.
There are many labor positions that really work, these are just the basics. When you labor yourself, listen to your body, tune in, and do what feels best. You will find your own tools that work best for you. They may change as time goes on and your baby moves lower, but if you have tapped into that central strength within you, you will find what works for you.
What labor positions worked best for you?