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Birthing Positions

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

There are various labour positions that you can assume during early labour and a whole other set of good birthing positions when it’s time to push — and don't assume that you must be flat on your back.

Birthing Positions

Most women deliver in the traditional semi-recumbent position, which is most comfortable for the labouring mothers, especially if on epidural. This position also allows the obstetrician to assess the baby’s head position and perform assisted delivery if necessary. There is also the rare complication when the baby’s shoulder is stuck in the birth canal (shoulder dystocia). This emergency needs the obstetrician to perform maneuvers to help deliver the baby and this position is best.

"All fours" position

This position, which is kneeling in bed and leaning forward with support, may help to relieve back pain when the baby is in occiput posterior (face up) position and may facilitate rotation of the head. Some women use birth balls to get into position. 

Squatting position

Some mothers may prefer to deliver in the squatting position as gravity might assist the delivery process. The use of a birthing chair or stool is recommended for squatting position. However, using a birthing chair has its drawbacks. It may cause tearing of the perineum. This happens when the baby’s head puts extra pressure on the perineum. 

Unfortunately, only few studies look into the advantages of different birthing positions. Thus, it is important to discuss your birth plan and communicate your desired birthing position with your obstetrician so that preparation can be made when admitted to the delivery suite.

Water Birth

This concept of delivery involves the labouring mother sitting in warm water which reduces the labour pain in a drug-free way. Some women who had tried, have found it to be a more satisfying delivery. 

However, there are some disadvantages. Some hospitals are not equipped with the water birth facilities. Monitoring of the baby becomes difficult with the mum submerged in the water. Infections may also occur if the water is non-sterile. Due to the warmth of the water, more blood loss is expected at delivery. Great care must be practised to protect the baby from drowning.​  ​

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