Moving in labor serves two very important purposes. First, it helps you cope with increasingly strong and painful contractions, which signal your body to keep labor going. Second, it helps gently wiggle your baby into your pelvis and through your birth canal.
When allowed to move freely, people laboring instinctively respond to pain the same way we deal with pain in our daily lives: squirming to find a comfortable position in an uncomfortable chair, walking differently to protect a blistered toe, rocking to ease gas pains, rubbing to relieve a headache. Walking changing position, squatting, rocking, rubbing, and swaying are effective ways to work with many kinds of pain, not just labor pain. Without freedom of movement, it’s difficult to cope with ordinary pain — and nearly impossible to handle labor without medical interventions.
In labor, movement provides other benefits, too: Not only does it help you find comfort, but it also hastens your baby’s journey through your body in a way that protects both of you from injury. Regardless of your pelvis size or your baby’s size, your baby must rotate to get through your pelvis. Your uterus contracts more efficiently and your baby rotates and descends more effectively when you move than when you keep still during labor.
- Read the summary of and complete Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice Paper on moving and changing positions in labor, available in eight languages, to learn more about induction of labor.
- Learn some tips for avoiding movement restrictions and how to cope if you must be restricted.
- Learn more about positions and other tips.
- Discover 8 positions to try in labor!
- Watch a video on moving around during labor.