To me there is nothing more helpful for labor progression than movement.
Labor is two separate bodies working together to bring about birth. A baby is not a passive participant in the process. No, the baby rotates, twists, flexes and extends their head all in the effort to work through the maternal pelvis.
There is actually a name for all these rotations made by the baby, they are called the Cardinal Movements. The movement of an un-medicated mother in labor can help her baby makes these necessary rotations quicker and easier cutting down on labor length. (Bonus: Chiropractic care prior to birth also helps with this!)
When birthing out of hospital a mom has free reign over her positioning. Often times without coaching you will see her start to rock and sway her hips. This opens up her pelvis and helps the baby rotate lower and lower. At some point she may instinctively kneel with a knee up to help a baby that got a little crooked on the way down.
A mothers natural intuition for her positioning is something that should be trusted and respected.
Sometimes as babies work through these movements of labor they will “go the long way around” or get their head crooked. As midwives we often recognize these little differences in labor and may suggest certain movements to help get baby into a more effective position of birth.
“Rules” of Movement in Birth
- There are none. Do what you need to do! If something is going to harm you or your baby we will tell you.
- Do what makes baby happy. Of course if baby is responding negatively to a certain position you should move again.
- Some positions slow labor, that is okay. Maybe your body needs a rest and you have found a position that may delay birth a little bit. This is okay! We may tell you but we don’t “make” you to move. (As long as baby is happy)
- Change positions frequently. Move around a lot. Maybe every 30 minutes find a new spot to be. Perhaps the last 30 minutes was lying on your side then the next is sitting on a ball…
- Movement within in a new position is amazing! Forward leaning or kneeling while rocking the hips. Going up and down stairs! Walking!
What positions did you use in labor to get you through?