This series of photos is from a single labor. The photos are wonderful, raw, and personal. I love watching this family and their doula support one another as this mother labors using a wide variety of positions in labor. The commentary is more on the positions in general, and not her labor. What I am sharing will be about an amalgamation of experiences that I have had a doula, childbirth educator, and a mother. My goal is to show you how you might effectively incorporation movement and positions in your labor and birth.
1- Squatting on the Desk During Hospital Registration
One thing that many mothers have talked about is how difficult the ride to the hospital or birth center can be. Once they are finally out of the car, they are relieved to be able to move more freely. So when they have to stop at a registration desk, they often feel more squirmy than anything. In this photo you can see that the dad is signing them in and filling out the paperwork, while the mother and doula work together to help mom be more comfortable. Here she is using the hospital desk as a makeshift bar to allow herself the ability to squat. The doula provides comfort measures.
2- Walking the Halls in Labor
Walking the halls in labor can feel really good. One reason is that you are not confined to your room, the other is sometimes you simply need to get from place A to place B. This is often the case after signing in the hospital or birth center. You may be offered a wheelchair, but you are also able to walk if you prefer. This may be something to discuss with your practitioner or during your hospital tour before covering it in your birth plan.
If you choose to walk around outside of your room, consider bringing socks or slippers to cover your feet. Remember, hospitals are germy environments. You should also plan to bring something to cover up in, like a robe. If you don’t have or don’t wish to use your robe, you can always use a second hospital gown worn backwards to cover your backside.
Keeping your partner and doula with you while walking the halls is optimal. It allows you the support and additional comfort for when you have contractions, and you will have contractions. If you are hooked to an IV line, your support team can help you push the pole.
3- Sitting in a Bed for Labor
This is one of the most common positions used in labor for American women. Sometimes they enter a labor room and are asked to get on the bed for a quick vaginal exam and a bit of fetal monitoring and they don’t move off the bed until after they have given birth. If this is not what your plan for labor is, remember to have someone to remind you to get up. This is possible, even with fetal monitoring and other procedures that may be common where you are giving birth. Your doula or labor nurse can help you figure out how best to move with additional things like monitors and IVs.
4- Kneeling Over the Back of the Bed
It is also important to remember, that even if you choose to stay in bed, there are multiple positions available to you. One of the ones that many moms find comfortable is to kneel backwards on the bed and face the back of the bed. But the back sitting up as far as is comfortable and lean over it. This allows one support person access to your face to talk to you and whisper kind words and one person to rub your back or use cool cloths on your skin.
5- Standing and Leaning Over the Bed
You can also use the bed to lean on as you stand on the floor. Flatten the body of the bed and raise the whole bed as high as is comfortable for your height. You can lean a lot or a little of your trunk on the bed, depending on what feels good to you in labor with your contractions. This allows allows access for comfort measures and gives the lower half of your body the freedom to move. An example might be swaying your hips during a contraction.
6- Sitting in a Tub of Water for Labor
Using water in labor is an amazing form of pain relief, second only to epidural anesthesia. The weightlessness of being in water feels really good in labor. It allows you to relax and focus on on the contraction, not the weight of your body or other things you might be able to ignore better if you weren’t in labor. While not all facilities will have tubs as nice as this one, even water from a shower can be beneficial as a tool to fight labor pain.
7- Squatting or Kneeling in the Tub
8- Kneeling in the Tub with a Birth Ball
The birth ball is very flexible tool in labor. Here you can see that it is being used as a cushion for mom to lean against while in the tub. This allows her to rest her upper body while relaxing her contracting belly in the water. Here her doula is pouring water over her lower back for added comfort.
9- Sitting with the Squat Bar
It’s true, as labor goes on, it can be really tiring. Something as simple as holding yourself up can be really tiring. Having the squat bar available on the bed can be really useful, even if just to lean on or hold on to. It can also be beneficial if you’re laying back, to prop your feet on.
10- Squatting with the Squat Bar
The squat bar is designed to hold your weight while you squat on the bed. It allows you to be off the floor, while keeping the soft bed under you. The squat bar provides you with something to hold onto, and yet provides a safe boundary. Your support team can be on either side of you in this position.
11- Semi-Sitting for Giving Birth
At the time of birth, a variety of positions can be chosen for the actual birth. It may depend on medications you have chosen, or the position of the baby, or if you and your partner want to help “catch” the baby. This allows you to see with or without a mirror. You can use pillows to prop your upper body up, or use the back of the bed, the same can be true of laying the bed backwards or removing pillows to lower your upper body.
12- Skin to Skin After Birth
Once your baby is born, reclining back on the bed is usually the easiest way to help you relax and hold your baby skin to skin, which is beneficial for both of you. Laying back allows your baby to rest comfortably between your breasts. It helps you feel stable and comfortable while holding baby and not having to worry about it. This is also a great position for beginning breastfeeding, the position is actually called laid back breastfeeding. Your midwife or doctor can still do what they need to do to finish with the placenta, while you and your baby bond. Your partner can also get really close and comfortable to you by putting the arm of the bed down (and back up if they move away).