Side Lying Positions for Labor and Birth

When using a side lying position during labor or for the pushing stage, the mother will rest on one side, with her body slightly curled, or in the "fetal" position (pun intended).  These birth positions are particularly effective for maintaining relaxation.  The mother is able to reduce unnecessary muscular effort, which, in turn, lessens fatigue in a long labor and greatly increases her comfort level. 

These positions are very beneficial for the baby as well.  They remove pressure from the uterus, kidneys, or other internal organs that can compress the umbilical cord.  Side-lying, particularly on the left side, is often used in hospitals when the baby's heart rate decreases during contractions. 

These positions are also particularly effective for pushing the baby out, as the mother isn't wasting effort tensing incorrect muscle groups.  The perineum isn't stressed which reduces the risk of tearing. 

During early labour, side-lying may not be the best choice as many of the other upright positions encourage speedier labor by using gravity to move the baby down through the pelvis.  The sidelying option can be particularly useful for a lengthy labor or when the mother is having difficulty maintaining adequate relaxation.

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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