For A Quicker Labor, Don't Lie Down

Study finds staying up-and-about moves along a baby's delivery

For A Quicker Labor, Don't Lie Down Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

Lying down during the early stages of childbirth may slow a woman's progress, The New York Times reports. Researchers in a recent issue of Cochrane Collaboration found that women who kneel, sit or walk around during the early stages of labor instead of lying in bed cut their birthing time down by as much as one hour.

The moms-to-be were also less likely to need an epidural, according to the Cochrane findings based on 21 studies involving a total of 3,706 women. The experts cite the movement as a possible distraction from the pain, making it less likely to ask for painkillers.

Women in industrialized countries tend to lie in bed during labor, usually making it easier for nurses to monitor the progression of labor and the baby's health. But a pregnant woman in bed puts the weight of her belly on her abdomen's blood vessels, which may weaken the strength of her contractions and in turn slow the dilation of her vagina, researchers said.

In most developing countries, women stand up or walk around as they wish during the early stages of birth with no ill effects. This review shows that there is some benefit and no risk to being upright and mobile during the first-stage of labor.

So basically, sit, stand or walk—anything but flat on your back. Read one mom's take on how a less-than-perfect labor position helped her out.

As you get ready for D-Day, remember that having the birth experience that you want starts with knowledge—so read up on your options. If the fear factor of labor is what has you concerned, glance through our tips on what you can do to overcome your anxiety and have a better birth experience. Remember to be flexible—both literally and figuratively.