The standard hospital labor position—semi- or fully reclining—is not ideal. When you’re lying on your back, your uterus compresses major blood vessels, potentially depriving the baby of oxygen and making you dizzy or queasy. In addition, when you’re reclining, the baby’s head puts pressure on pelvic nerves in your sacrum, increasing pain during contractions.
Remaining upright and leaning forward reduces this pressure while allowing your baby’s head to constantly bear down on your cervix. The result? Dilation tends to occur more quickly. Here are six labor positions to try (those marked with an asterisk(*) can be used if you receive an epidural, though you may need support).