We've all seen images of people giving birth laying on their back. It might even be what you automatically picture when you think of someone giving birth. But giving birth in upright positions, on the other hand, may offer several more benefits in labor, including less medically-assisted births (vacuum or forceps), more satisfaction in overall birth, less abnormal fetal heart rate patterns, less pain, and potentially shortened pushing duration.
Ultimately, the position in which you push during birth is your choice. You should be encouraged and supported to get into any position that feels good to you. If you want to learn more about positions and tips for pushing during birth, take a quality childbirth class. For now, get started by learning about the following four pushing positions.
Since it enlarges your pelvic opening and works with gravity, squatting is especially effective when you're ready to push. Squatting -- with support from either your partner, doula, health care provider, or a squat bar -- may reduce the time spent pushing, as well as reduce back pressure, and the need for forceps or vacuum. Squatting may also help with baby's rotation for a better position for birth. The correct form for squatting is knees wide, feet flat on the floor, parallel. It's important to know too that squatting can be tiring for your and difficult for your care provider to access if needed. Taking breaks in a non-squatting position between contractions can help.
All fours (hands-and-knees):
On all fours, you still get to take advantage of gravity and a wider pelvic opening, only this time with more full-body support. This position may also assist with baby's rotation if it's needed. The hands-and-knees position also relieves back pressure that can cause back labor. This position has little downsides other than making it difficult for you to see what's happening. This position is easy for your care providers to assess and see what's happening.
Kneeling is a nice combination of hands-and-knees and squatting. It uses a more gravity-positive position like squatting, but with stronger support like all fours. To open your pelvis even further, many people will instinctively open up one leg and plant their foot down perpendicular. Imagine proposing on one knee, but opening the planted foot out to the right or left, respectively. Kneeling for birth can be done on the floor (with a soft surface for the knees) or in the bed, with the back of the bed propped up to hold on for support.
Using a birth stool:
A birth stool or birth chair was used for centuries as an easier, assisted way for people to give birth. It provides support, encourages a open pelvic position, and uses gravity -- what more could you want?! Some hospitals and birth centers may have a birth stool available for you to try or use. If not, you can consider purchasing one. A birth stool should be used on a firm surface. Some stools are designed to be secure for use on top of a bed. Birth stools make it easy for you to see what's going on during pushing/birth, as well as easy for care providers to perform assessments if needed.