Reduce Pain: Alternative Birthing Positions

Stress is the main contributor for pain during labor and delivery. Cortisol, the stress hormone, when released makes you experience anxiety and pressure. Practicing relaxation techniques and changing your perception of the birthing experience, from fearful to beautiful, will be a good way to prepare yourself for your big day.


With the application of modern medicine, it should’ve ideally been easier for women to experience birth. Unfortunately, lying on your back in a hospital bed doesn’t make it easier on the mom-to-be, it makes it easier for the doctor to examine and help in delivering the baby. While on her back in the C position (legs pulled apart while being semi-seated), the maternal pelvic outlet is up to 30% smaller, putting direct pressure on her tailbone which flexes it upward while restricting the diameter of the pelvic outlet and making it harder for the mother to push against the force of gravity to make her

descent upwards! The hospital setting not only adds its form of stress, but also makes it detrimental to the woman lying in that position.

Lithomy, when the woman is made to rest on her back with her legs held apart, is another position that is used in a clinical setting. If too much pressure is exerted on the woman’s legs, there are possibilities of hip abduction and excruciating postpartum pain (severe enough to get crutches or a wheelchair). In the case of mothers who opt to receive epidurals, if an excess amount of drugs are being pumped, the mother may not be able to feel the amount of pressure she applies during birthing since her lower body will be completely sensation-less which can lead to an increased risk of shoulder problems in babies.

First and foremost, the birthing canal is in the shape of the alphabet J, which means the C position and lithomy are illogical! Research clearly states that effective birthing positions can speed up labor and decrease levels of discomfort by aligning the baby properly. One study even showed that

mothers who change positions frequently during labor saw a 50% reduction in the time taken to progress from 3cm to 10cm cervical dilation.

This can be achieved by understanding and practicing alternate birthing positions to reduce area-specific pressure and unnecessary muscular strain. These studies propose that alternative positions help reduce back pain, pain experienced during pushing and a decrease in perineal tears, which in turn reduces the rates of surgical repair of the pelvic floor.

Listed below are 5 main alternate birthing positions that you can discuss with your healthcare provider. If none of these are suitable for unique and special pregnancy, inquire other options available to you.

1. Down On All Four:

The quadruped (hands and knees) position, which includes the “crawl” and “full moon” poses, is known to be the best position to birth a large baby. This position is beneficial for back labor and turning a posterior baby.

2. On Your Side:

The Laternal or side-lying position allows the mother to rest during a long labor while promoting overall relaxation throughout her body and minimizing excessive muscular effort. This position proves beneficial in

latter stages of labor since gravity hasn’t been able to speed the process.

3. Squat:

This position needs to be performed with the help of a squatting stool or a birthing companion. Squatting helps in opening up the pelvis to allow the little-one in attaining the best position to find his/her way out.

4. Standing or Upright:

Using the force of gravity, this position allows the baby to drop into the pelvis and alleviate pressure from being concentrated in a specific area. The standing or upright position is the most under-used and underrated position even though this position allows birthing companions to provide extra support and comfort easily to the mother.

5. Sitting:

Birthing women can use a rocking chair, a birth ball or a toilet to rest while gravity does its part in the labor process while she relaxes.


Ineffective birthing positions can compress blood vessels that play a major role in blood circulation, leaving the mother with low blood pressure which, in fact, decreases blood supply to the fetus as much as 91%. This means, the baby’s heart rate will decrease leading to various other


With the freedom of movement and trusting their intuitions, mothers should feel safe and comfortable through the birthing process. There will then be a release of progesterone (the feel good hormone) which has given birthing women orgasms! Yes, it’s possible!