Side-Lying: This familiar position allows you to rest between contractions.
Semi-Sitting: For this position, sit on the bed, bringing your legs toward yourself.
Lyon points out that a woman should practice birth positions by attending a birth class or reviewing pregnancy books and trying positions out at home. She urges women to dismiss the idea that one position works for everyone. "The idea that every woman should give birth in the same position is like saying that everyone should have sex in the same position. Different positions work for different women."
Keep in mind there are several variations of each position and you can also combine methods, for example squat or lean while in the shower.
Medication and Semi-Recumbent Positions
Not all pain relief medications work with various laboring and birthing positions. Narcotics can make women dizzy or drowsy so that it is difficult to move around. Epidurals can cause immobility, making it less likely that a woman will be able to use a nonrecumbent position for birth. In addition, epidurals are administered through an IV attached through a small tube in a woman's back; both the woman and the baby must be constantly monitored, according to Dr. William Camann, MD, and Kathryn J. Alexander, authors of Easy Labor. Some hospitals have policies against a woman getting up once she has had an epidural.
Finding the Right Doctor to Match Your Birthing Goals
Before deciding on a labor or birthing position, make sure your OB-GYN or midwife will support your decision. "You should discuss your birthing desires as soon as possible to get a sense for the range of possibility that a practice will handle," says Lyon. "Some are very relaxed while other practices have very rigid ideas of what they will allow. It can be devastating to find out two weeks before your due date that you don't have any choice."
To avoid this, Lyon suggests talking to your doctor or midwife early in pregnancy about birth positions and not just in generalities: "Don't be afraid to ask questions and be specific. If you want to deliver naturally and the hospital that your doctor delivers at has high epidural rates, ask how he or she manages that."
Ready to Deliver?
While labor and childbirth may sound overwhelming, education is key. Talk to your healthcare provider about your needs and find classes that will help you meet your goals. Try out different positions at home before the big day to learn what might work best for you.