Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Prepping for birth: labor positions and baby positions

Pelvic-rock position, or, baby in a belly hammock
In last Monday's child-birthing class, we experimented with labor positions by visiting spots around the room with taped-up diagrams and attendant equipment.  In the side-lying station, we used doubled-up yoga mats and an array of pillows, while we used a scarf in the belly-lift area to see how it felt when my "labor coach" hoisted my bump towards the ceiling during a pretend contraction.  Turns out, not all that different-- but, then, these contractions are simulated by holding a bag of ice in your hand, and my reading suggests that labor might actually be more uncomfortable than that.

Getting the Baby Out: Belly Like A Hammock for Baby and Your Back

The coolest/most anxious-making information from this class (aside from the knowledge that one mom was already four centimeters dilated) was that my posture can affect whether Baby Evie gets into the appropriate position for birth.  The head-down thing I get, but I'd kind of spaced out on the whole rotation issue.  It's hard to fully absorb terms like "occiput anterior" and "occiput posterior," but I guess I can see where "face to tailbone" and "face to pubic bone" are clumsy, too.  Anyway, that's what those terms mean, and the idea is that you want the baby to be facing your tailbone on his/her way out, rather than towards your pubic bone.  This has to do with how smoothly he/she emerges, so it's actually pretty important.

As it happens, sitting in a reclining position (like, say, in a comfy recliner, or lying in bed, or any of the positions that are most comfortable for a bulbous expectant mom) narrows the space in the uterus, making it tougher for the baby to rotate.  You can create more space for her by sitting with your knees at a level lower than your hips, like on the edge of a chair.  The pelvic-rock position-- hands & knees or "cat & cow"-- is ideal.  They describe this as making a hammock out of your belly.  Somehow this creates a proper gravitational situation for the baby's heaviest part (back and torso) to roll to the bottom of the hammock, with her face rotated towards the tailbone.

What's surprising to me is that being on my hands and knees is actually pretty comfortable for me, too.  We sent our nice shag rug to be cleaned (part of Heather's nesting plan), so my hands and knees themselves aren't the happiest, but it's really nice on my back to shift the weight, especially in the cow pose.  If you're pregnant and your back hurts, get a cushy yoga mat and go for it.

Meanwhile, fitness/birthing balls are supposed to be excellent for this, too.  Sounds like a good excuse for a Target trip.


  1. Wow I didn't know this. But when I was in labor and at home being on my hands and knees rocking back and forth was what got me thru the pain. I was even on my knees leaning over back of seat on way to hospital in the car. Maybe that is why labor was so quick for me. Start of first contraction till delivery was 6 hours 45 mins. I almost didn't make it to hospital. So I would say that position in my experience really helps!

    1. Less than 7 hours? You're my idol!

    2. Yes and my mom was in labor with me for 18 hours so I expected that. I really think that position made a big difference bc I think she was in a bed the whole labor. Even when I got to hospital my midwife let me be how ever I wanted. Loved my midwife. I was even completely naked lol bc I was so hot. I didn't care who saw me lol

  2. I agree with Amanda! My labor wasn't quite as quick as hers, but I arrived at the hospital 8 cm dilated... and my birth preparation involved a LOT of cat/cow and birthing ball positioning. Good luck with everything!

  3. Hitting up Target for the birth ball today!