6 Reasons Why Lying On Back Is The Worst Position For Labor

A screaming mother, lying on her back in the bed and trying to push the baby out is the most common movie scene involving a pregnant lady birthing in a hospital. Lying in the bed not only restricts your movement but also works against you while you are giving birth.

Although this position is easier for the doctor to see the progress of the birth, it is neither convenient for the mother nor the baby. Research says that the supine position is an interference with the natural course of childbirth.1


Here are 7 reasons why not to give birth on your back.

1. You Are Pushing Against The Gravity

When are pushing while laying down, you are actually pushing against the gravity. When in the supine position, your birth canal curves upward, making the labor work difficult from the beginning.


2. Supine Position Constricts Blood Flow

When the mother is lying on her back, it constricts the blood vessels. It means reduced flow blood and oxygen to the mother and the baby, which could affect the babies heart rate, increasing the risk of distress.

If the mother births in an upright position, there won’t be any pressure on her aorta, which means an increased oxygen supply to the baby.


3. Lesser Space For The Baby

As compared to giving birth in a squat position, lying on your back during labor leaves lesser space for the baby, closing the pelvic opening by up to 20-25%. Using x-rays, scientists have observed that squatting and kneeling can help widen the pelvic outlet.

4. Upright Position Helps Uterus Contract Better

If the mother is in an upright position during the second stage of labor, her uterus will contract more efficiently. This means she has to use comparatively lesser energy to push out the baby.


5. Longer And Painful Labor

Lying on the back can prolong the labor as compared to the upright position, which means dealing with pain for a longer time. During spontaneous pushing, the mother follows her instincts and her body’s urge to push. This helps conserve her energy and push only when needed.

Researchers have found that birthing in an upright position and using spontaneous pushing technique, moms have to deal with lesser pain and prevents the abnormal fluctuation in baby’s heart rate pattern. Mothers experience a shorter labor and are still able to retain strength in their pelvic floor muscles.


6. Risk of Birth Assisted Tools

Pushing when lying on your back can make birthing difficult and strainful for the mother, so much so that it may require assisted birth—which means the doctors may have to use forceps and vacuum pumps if the baby isn’t making any progress and the mother is exhausted.

Best Positions For Labor

You can never run out of options for birthing positions. Most importantly, whatever positions feel comfortable for the mother should be preferred—mothers should be allowed to take the decision of choosing their preferred position for birth.


The upright position is known to give more childbirth satisfaction.2

Apart from that semi-sitting position, kneeling on all fours, leaning with a forward support, lying on the side, squatting position are some of the positions to prefer over birthing on your back. If the mother is too tired to squat or lean forwards, lying sideways or in an upright position can help.


Moms must remember that if they comfortable in their position of birth then they will have a better childbirth experience. Always keep your mind open and listen to the cues that your body gives you. Be prepared and practice to be in these positions well before your due date. Here is your guide to labor positions.