safe motherhood



The most important thing in labour is to get comfortable! You will probably want to do different things at different stages. Early in your labour you will often feel able to manage your contractions on your own, and it may be enough just to get into the position that helps most. By making yourself as comfortable as possible, you are easing your baby's passage through your pelvis.

During each contraction, your womb is rearing forwards to push your baby's head down onto the cervix and so dilate the cervix. Nearly all women find that being upright helps them to cope better. Upright positions make the most of gravity, and leaning forwards helps the action of the uterus.

You may feel that you want to lean forwards against the back of a chair, or on to the hospital bed (remember you can raise or lower the bed). You may want to kneel and lean on to a chair. If you have backache, try going on all-fours, using a bean bag or lots of pillows under your knees and hands to make yourself comfortable. Do what your instincts tell you to do.

If you're standing upright, try rocking your pelvis round and round, and forwards and backwards. The rhythm is comforting, but rocking also helps your baby's head open up the cervix evenly, in the same way that shaking your head helps you push it through a jumper with a tight neck.

If you get to the point when you want to be left alone, bury yourself in a large bean bag and ignore the rest of the world. (It's worth taking in a bean bag with you in case the hospital hasn't got one.)

Before the birth, it's worth trying out different labour positions – always upright or leaning forward - because you're more likely to adopt a position that has already become familiar.