4 vaginal birth positions: pros and cons

Try these birthing options to help ease delivery.

During the second stage of labour, a pregnant woman may want to consider various normal birth positions to help them during pushing as well as actual birthing. This is partially due to research findings that birth position may affect the perineal outcome.

There are a few positions women can opt for when doing a vaginal delivery. We hope that this article will be able to shed some light on the risks and benefits of your birthing options. That way, you can make the best choices for your birth plan.

1. Squatting Birth Positions

normal birth positions

Picture credit: My Birth Class

Squatting is not only a great help during labour but is also one of the more popular and normal birth positions. This position allows gravity to help you when it comes to actual labour and delivery.

Why it’s great:

  • Squatting speeds up dilation during labour.
  • It reduces the need for forceps or a vacuum delivery.
  • Squatting births can help reduce the length of labour.
  • Squatting can widen your pelvic opening by 20 to 30%.

Why it might not be safe:

  • Baby’s position may not be right for squatting (breech or transverse).
  • Squats can be taxing on your body because it can strain the ankles, knees and hips.
  • It can lead to more tearing if done without a birthing stool or other aid.

2. Reclining Birth Positions

Picture courtesy: YouTube

Labour and childbirth can be long and arduous, resulting in mums needing to take breaks in between. The normal birth position that offers this is the reclining birth position because the mum-to-be can relax on the bed.

There are various ways to achieve this — you can lie down in bed, recline against a wall, a chair or another person. You can also enlist the help of your husband to keep your back supported while he gives back rubs between contractions. 

Why it’s great:

  • This position can help reduce tension and relax the muscles.
  • It’s a good alternative when the mum-to-be is tired but doesn’t want to lie down completely.

Why it might not be safe:

  • It may work against gravity, resulting in a longer labour.
  • When on your back, your uterus might compress major blood vessels, potentially depriving the baby of oxygen and making you feel dizzy or queasy.
  • If your baby is posterior, this will cause your labour to hurt more. 

3. Birthing Stool Positions

Picture credit: Kaya Birth

A great tool to help mums try out different normal birth positions is a birthing stool. Women can squat on it, get in the all fours position with it and use it to support the arms.

Mums can even rock back and forth with it depending on the stool’s design. The best part about it is that you can even use it during a water birth. There are some birthing stool models that are suitable for water.

Why it’s great:

  • It can help baby to drop into the birth canal much faster.
  • Birthing stools help to relieve pressure on the back.
  • It can help to increase dilation of the cervix.

Why it might not be safe:

  • Women may experience increased blood loss.
  • It may increase the rate and severity of perineal tears.

4. Birthing/Squat Bar Positions

Picture credit: Triad Birth Doula

Like the birthing stool, a birthing bar is a tool that attaches to the bed to help support various normal birth positions. With a birthing bar, you can sit up at any time and squat, leaning on the bar for support.

Delivering mums can wrap a towel and use it as a rope to help when they are pushing. It can help give mums the resistance needed to push especially when they have been in labour for a very long time but are not making much progress.

Why it’s great:

  • Offers resistance for mums to push
  • Can help shift the baby if needed
  • Uses gravity
  • Less painful and more productive contractions 
  • Relieves backaches
  • More restful than standing

Why it might not be safe:

  • Women need to think ahead of time how they want to approach this tool.
  • Increased tearing is possible if used in a squatting position and when pushing the wrong way.

Despite the various normal birth positions mums can choose, they are meant to help ease the delivery of your baby when opting for a normal vaginal delivery.

Mums can always choose the method that they are most comfortable with after discussing options with nurses and OBGYN. However, your baby’s life and safety should always be the top priority whatever decision you make.

If your baby is not in the optimal position for your planned delivery, be flexible and accept changes. There is no shame in delivering via caesarian section.

normal birth positions

Sources: Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota

Lead and feature picture courtesy of Life Full Joy

Read also: 7 Discussions parents must have before birth