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Episode 3: Positions (they're not so complex as you may worry they are!)

birth prep labor Jun 03, 2021

Hello and welcome to episode 3! In this week's birth preparation video we'll discuss labor positions, how there are generally two goals for labor positions and sometimes they are in conflict, the importance of not overthinking it, and a labor position tip at the end!
This video is part of my ongoing weekly Brave Journey birth preparation videos where I pick a birth topic and talk about it! Let me know any thoughts or ideas for future videos. What do you want to know or wish you'd known about childbirth and birth preparation?


Hi, I'm Cara Lee with Brave Journey. And this is another episode of your weekly birth preparation videos. Uh, today we're going to be talking about labor positions and how they're not as complex as you may be worried they are.

So first, a little bit of housekeeping, I'm building my labor preparation program or my birth preparation program. Um, so if you'd like to go to, I will notify you when the registration opens.

In the meantime, I am currently offering individualized, private child work preparation classes, and these are live over zoom. And, uh, the way we start as you fill out a questionnaire and then I build a custom is for you and your needs. If you're interested, please send me an email, [email protected] or send me a DM or a private message. I'd love to learn more about you and your needs and see if that's a good fit.

So now onto the topic for today, we are going to talk about labor positions. So first we'll talk about how there are two different goals for labor positions and, um, sometimes they're in conflict, and sometimes they, um, you could meet the same goals with the same positions. And we'll talk about the importance of not overthinking it, how probably the best position for you during labor is the position that you find intuitively. And , I'll give you a specific and general at the same time tip at the end. I'll give you a position tip. Uh, and I have notes again you might hear some fluttering paper, but the truth is that if I don't make notes for myself, I will just go on and on and on. So this keeps me on target on track.

So thanks for putting up with these fluttering sounds. So let's get to it.

Labor and pushing positions can have two different goals. Uh, the first goal is often for the person laboring to find a position that feels the best for them that helps them cope the best with the sensations and the intensity of labor and contractions.

So for an example, sitting for many people feels really bad during labor, as does laying down on your back -for most people. Now there's always going to be the person for whom the shape of their pelvis and the position of their baby... these positions felt great, but for almost everybody sitting in laying back is like, Horrible.

And if you were to ask a laboring person to stay in those positions, then they would find labor to be very, very, very overwhelming and very difficult to cope with. However, if that person is invited to get up and move around and sway and rock and roll during contractions and move and find positions that feel good... that same person would then be able to cope with labor better and find labor to be not nearly so overwhelming or difficult to manage. So the goal of labor positions can sometimes be to find positions that that laboring person can cope with the sensations of labor in much more manageably than perhaps in previous positions.

A second goal for labor positions could be to specifically help the baby find their way down and out. So, sometimes if labor has slowed down or if it seems the baby might be in a less optimal position, there are labor positions that can be specifically suggested for specific circumstances, by skilled care providers, um, and skilled care providers would be people who are used to helping people labor, not in bed. Um, so some facilities, if most of their patients are laboring in bed and under pain medication, then they're not going to be as skilled at helping people find active labor positions and be up and moving. But if you're in a, um, if you're working with care providers or midwives or doula who is helping you labor, then they may suggest a very specific labor position to help your baby find an optimal more optimal position.

And the reason this can sometimes be in conflict is because, for example, a position that can help get labor going and help the baby find their way down and out is to take some side lunges. Where the laboring person puts their one foot is on the ground. They lift their other foot, they're holding onto their birth partner usually, and they put their other foot up on a chair or a couch or something or a stool and they rock forward and back in that position during a contraction. That is not always the most comfortable way to get through a contraction and sometimes we'll ask that laboring person to do that 2, 3, 4 contractions. It just depends on the situation and then switch to the other side and do it 2, 3, 4 times on the other. That can be the opposite of helping everything feel more manageable or helping that laboring person cope. But it may be for a very specific purpose, um, for helping them maybe find an optimal position and it may help labor kickstart labored. And that is just an example of a position. There are a ton of positions like that.

In fact, spinning babies. I took a full day workshops, full up positions and particular fetal position challenges, and then labor positions that can help manage that as well as labor positions, prenatally that can help bring the baby into an optimal fetal position prenatally.

So. The, this complexity does exist, but it really is complexity for the birth worker. For you as the laboring person the goal is for you not to overthink it.

Which is my next point. Point 2, do not overthink labor position. So I just said, there's this whole spinning babies thing. There's this whole school of thought and skilled methodology around labor positions, but that is the responsibility of a skilled care provider, a medical care provider, a midwife or doctor who is used to working with laboring people who are upright and moving around, not just laying in the bed with an epidural. So these labor positions are, most of what I'm mentioning is for if you're upright. There are labor positions, if you're lying down in an epidural, but that would be a different video.

Um, but anyways, do not overthink . Your responsibility as the birthing person is to intuitively move in ways that feel good, that help you manage labor, that, that help you cope that make things feel manageable. And usually that involves swaying moaning and, and finding lots of different positions. The same as you would, if you were sitting in a position on the couch, watching Netflix and all of a sudden your back starts hurting. And you get up and you move and you find a different position and you feel better.

This is practicing for labor. And in fact, I'm biased, obviously as a prenatal yoga instructor , I'm like super biased towards yoga, but any mindful movement practice that you can practice prenatally is going to prepare you to have a really great framework for finding ways to move in your body that feel good. The invite sensation in a way that feels manageable to you. And for you to have a lot of different movements at your disposal and positions at your disposal. So I always highly recommend prenatal yoga for that, um, for that purpose and many other, and I'm biased. So know your source on this. I'm biased.

So let's see, um, What's another, where am I at. Here we are. Lastly, I said, I was going to give you a tip. A position that often meets both goals helps the laboring person cope and manage labor more comfortably and helps the baby move down and out and helps with optimal fetal positioning is usually something that is upright and slightly leaning forward.

And I'm saying usually because there's always circumstances that are unique, but usually staying upright and labor and leaning slightly forward is going to be the most comfortable. And that's going to help that baby find their way down and out.

What this can look like is leaning forward on your knees, leaning forward on the edge of a bed or the back of a couch or. Um, if it's in the hospital, you can take the hospital bed and sit the back up like this. And the laboring person can put their knees here and then lean forward on the back of the bed like this. And in my, um, in my birth preparation program, I'm going to be showing these positions in a much better way than I am here. But if you can imagine this. This hospital bed, and then leaning forward on the back, um, kneeling on your knees, um, all fours or kneeling on the ground with your arm up on a birth ball. Leaning against a wall as you're walking down the hospital hallways or the birth center or your home leaning, and your contraction comes upon you as you're walking and swaying and working between contractions, a contraction comes upon, you can lean forward against the wall.

So you're still standing and you're still kind of swaying and moving, but you're leaning forward or wrapping your arms around your birth partner um, like a slow dance position and using that position to lean forward and stand for contraction. All of these are variations on the exact same thing. So that's why I said it's a specific tip, a specific position tip that tends to meet both goals, but also it's rather general because you can confine that upright leaning forward position all sorts of ways in all birthing locations while moving between your home to the hospital or to the birth center or during a home birth, there's so many, um, different ways to find that position.

So in summary, let me make sure I hit all my points that I promised I would and summary labor positions aren't actually that complex. There can be some really specific, fantastic, helpful labor positions for very specific challenges. Per perhaps during labor, but that's for your, um, that's where building your birth team really matters. I'll never stop saying that who is on your birth team, who your medical care provider is really does matter.

And having a doula or having a skilled labor professional who can help you through labor can really make a big difference. Again, I'm biased. I'm a doula, but there's good data for that. Not just my bias. Yes. Um, so let's see.

Two different goals of labor positions, help the labor person find positions where contractions and sensations feel better and more manageable and help the baby move down and out too.

Don't overthink it. Find your own intuitive positions that feel good.

And three, um, generally a position that tends to work for both goals is staying upright and leaning forward. So finding positions that feel good like that.

So again, thank you for sticking it out while I talk about this for so long, 11 minutes, that's not so bad.

Like I said, without my outline, I would go on and on and on and on. Again, go to and enter your email address if you would, please. So I can let you know when registration opens for my birth preparation program online, or if you would like a private, customized session, reach out to me.

And I would love to work with you. Thank you so much.

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