We know that for most mothers and babies a vaginal birth is optimal. The process of the baby descending into your pelvis and being born through the birth canal can prepare a baby for life outside of the womb. We encourage early skin to skin contact which is known to promote bonding, regulate your baby’s heart rate and temperature and can encourage successful infant feeding.
There are lots of ways to optimise a vaginal birth including considering the birth environment that feels right for you, having a supportive birth partner, keeping mobile, staying hydrated, adopting upright positions, and much more.
When women give birth on TV or in films, they tend to spend their labour lying back on a hospital bed. But most women will move around a lot during labour and will change position as their labour progresses and the baby changes position. It is important to listen to your body.
Moving around, staying upright and changing position can:
- ease the pain
- help you cope
- make you feel in control of your labour
- increase your chances of a shorter labour help the baby navigate through your pelvis help you find the best position for giving birth.
There are lots of positions you can try. Do whatever feels right for you and remember that your midwife and birth partner are there to help and encourage you.
You could try:
- sitting, leaning on a table
- straddling a chair or toilet, facing backwards standing, leaning on a bed, table or against your birth partner standing, leaning on a birth ball that’s sitting on a bed kneeling on the floor, cradling a birth ball kneeling on all fours (this can help if you’ve had lots of backache) kneeling over the back of the bed or against your birth partner rocking back and forth on, sit, on gently bounce on a birth ball.
- Try to walk around too, if you can. If you get tired or your contractions get stronger, you can try to keep moving by shifting your weight from one foot to the other, or by rocking your pelvis.
Some of these positions will make it easier for your birth partner to give you a massage or back rub. This will help release endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormones, which can help with the pain. There are lots of other options for pain relief during labour too.
Remember to rest when you need to and don't worry about what you look like. The midwives have seen it all before, so do what feels good for you.