Positions for Birth, Part 3

"Hands & Knees" 


Hands and knees is a great position for labor that allows for open hips and pelvis, and can also be a highly effective position for pushing. If you experience significant back pain in labor it’s likely you will find a lot of relief on your hands and knees. It’s thought that significant back pain in labor can be the result of a mal-positioned or posterior baby. Hands and knees may be suggested if labor is stalling. You might not find it comfortable at first (or at all); try to give it a few contractions for your body to adjust – it might be what your labor needs to take the next turn.  


The most important thing is that you get comfortable. You might be on your knees for a while if you find your groove in this position, so make sure to set yourself up with cushioning under your knees and a comfortable place to rest between contractions. If you have an exercise ball you can try draping yourself with your arms over top and room for your belly. Lay a blanket over top if you find the ball uncomfortable and keep a glass of water with a straw nearby to stay hydrated. The ball allows you to rock through contractions comfortably and makes a nice resting place in between. A couch or hospital bed moved to a comfortable level also make a good place to anchor yourself and rest in between.


Keep your hips wide for hands and knees. The rocking motion of the birthing ball can be beneficial to encourage baby to descend into your pelvis. Through contractions try to drop your arms and shoulders into the ball or bed and relax your bottom to bring baby down and open your cervix (as much as you can – this can be easier said than done! Your doula will encourage and remind you of this.) Having your partner or doula use counter-pressure or the double hip squeeze can help relieve the pressure you may feel in your back through contractions.

Listen to your body. If you are feeling uncomfortable, find a new position. You are the most in tune with what your body needs to go through labor and birth your baby – don’t ignore it!