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Pregnancy + Postpartum

3 Labor & Delivery Positions that Can Speed Things Up

Mar 15, 2022Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT3 MIN
A woman with a newborn baby

Early in labor, it’s helpful to rest and conserve your energy as best you can. If your labor allows, you’ll want to rest — and maybe even get some sleep (yes, we know that’s way harder than it sounds). As active labor approaches and contractions intensify, it’s best to shift positions every 30 minutes or so, provided that’s safe for you. Movement is likely to feel much better than spending extended periods of time lying down. And, if it’s the right time to move your labor along, activity will help with that, too.

While there are many positions you can use to manage the discomfort of labor and speed things along, if you do not have an epidural and are able to get into them squatting positions can be particularly helpful. Squatting can help to create space at the top of your pelvis (the pelvic inlet), and make use of gravity to allow for baby to better position themself for birth.

Keep in mind that, during labor, it’s important to follow the recommendations of your birthing team, since they’ll know what’s safest and most effective for you, from moment to moment. Also, if you have any hip discomfort, labral injuries or pain in your pubic symphysis going into labor, squatting may aggravate your pain. For more tips, tricks, and positions that can help you have the smoothest labor and delivery possible, consider working with a pelvic floor PT!

Supported Squatting

Tips:

  • Move into a deep squat position, using your birth partner, a chair, or a birthing ball for support.
  • A more shallow squat is great for pushing if you don’t have an epidural, but it’s not recommended to push in a deep squat as there is an increased risk of trauma to the perineum.
  • If you have any hip discomfort or labral injuries, avoid deep squatted positions which can put a lot of pressure on your hip joints.

Lap Squatting

Tips:

  • A variation of the squat, lap squatting may be less strenuous, giving you rest.
  • Allow your upper body to be supported in a hug.
  • During contractions, your birth partner can move their hips open further, which allows your buttocks to drop down lower. This opens your pelvis further and encourages pelvic floor muscle relaxation.
  • After your contraction, they can bring their legs back together for increased support as you rest.
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Dangle Squatting

Tips:

  • During contractions, drape your arms over your birth partner’s thighs and lower into a squat — your partner can help support your weight as you get into position.
  • This position creates space in your torso and pelvis to allow for the back to move, as gravity assists your baby down into your pelvis to encourage labor.
  • Stand up between contractions so that you don’t place too much pressure on the nerves in your arms.
Ashley Rawlins Headshot
Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT

Dr. Rawlins is a physical therapist at Origin who specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions including pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy related pain, postpartum recovery, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. In addition to being a practicing clinician, she is a passionate educator and author.

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