29 answers

Birthing Positions in Hospital

I am 38 weeks and 4 days and my baby is measuring in the 98th percentile. I know the ultrasounds at this point are notoriously inaccurate but my doctor is recommending that I have my bag of waters broken next week if nothing happens. I have been planning a natural birth from the beginning so this is frustrating. We are praying I go into labor this week. I was 3cm and 50% effaced on Friday and the baby has definitely dropped so that's progress.

Anyway, my sister had her third at home and he was 9lbs 6oz. She delivered him squatting. Can you do this in the hospital? I'm assuming my doctor will want me on the bed so he can see what's going on but I'm curious if anyone has any advice on positions for big babies. Thanks!

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With my second, the bed was elevated and they dropped the 2nd half of the bed and it was so easy delivering him that way. My SIL hung from a bar and delivered that way. Both were done in hospitals, so around here anyways, they let you deliver how ever is comfortable for you.

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You can deliver in whatever position you want in hospital as long as you are not needing any intervention. In which case they'll probably prop you up in stirrups and go ahead. They should have other birthing equipment such as balls and stools to help. I'm surprised this hasn't been covered in your antenatal classes or hospital registration/check in/orientation. Good luck.

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They cannot stop you from doing anything in the hospital. But if you have an epidural, you won't be able to squat.

If you end up not having an epidural, then no one can stop how you birth. And yes, I understand you want natural... Doesn't always happen as planned.

I planned to have an epidural with my 2nd... It didn't work because of his position... I had them turn it off. If I could do it all again, I wouldn't have even asked for one.

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You do not have to allow your doctor to break your water. You are in charge! I would be concerned about your doctor's rush to intervene before you are even due. I would be concerned that he will rush to other interventions, also. Make sure you are absolutely aware of the implications of having your water broken - you will then need to deliver within a certain number of hours to minimize risk, so you will be at increased risk of all other interventions including C-section.

As others have said, if you don't have an epidural or other complications, you can labor in whatever position you choose. Let this baby come when it is ready. I know several averaged-sized women who have birthed babies over 10 lbs.

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Listen to your body! Take the doctor's opinion, do your own research and help make medical decisions for your own body. If you don't want your water broken, don't let them do it! I gave birth naturally in a hospital and my daughter was 9 lbs 12 oz. I gave birth on my back with the bed elevated. Luckily my doctor said he wouldn't touch me (induce) since I wanted to go natural.

Good luck! You can do this. Your body will go into labor when the baby's lungs are ready and sends the signal to your brain.

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WIth my oldest, I was on my knees with my chest against the propped up bed. With my youngest, I was laying on my side with one leg up and one leg on the bed. My midwife pretty much let me do whatever felt natural and comfortable.

IDK what the Drs allow at your hospital, butyou should definately ask if you can choose your birthing position. Flat on your back may work for you, but you never know until youre ready to push...

Good luck!! :)

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I gave birth standing up (in a slight squat). If someone had told me to get into Lithotomy position, I would have punched them in the face. Or jumped off a roof. ;-)

I recommend the book, "The Birth Partner", for you and your support person/people. It's a simple and solid read.

In our local hospital, the beds are actually set up with handle bars to hold onto while squatting. The staff is trained to allow you to move in a way that assists labor, rather than in a way that is easy for the doctor.

Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and your birth process.

Good luck, you'll be great!

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You can certainly use any position that works for you in the hospital! By now (at 38 weeks) have you discussed this with your doctor(s)?
Be open and honest about what YOU want and be open to how you can achieve it.
It's OK if the actual birth goes a little differently than the birth you're picturing in your head! lol
The important thing is that you are happy & healthy and that your baby is, too!
And remember, experience and education count for a lot when it comes to birth. Obviously, you trust your doctors, so you should feel comfortable expressing your needs and wants to them. And L&D nurses are a wonderful breed of people! Truly angels.
Best of luck!

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I delivered my son at a hospital, but had a drug free birth. My hopsital had a birthing ball, a tub, a squat bar, etc.
Trust your instincts and don't let your doctor "bully" you into anything. Your body, your baby, you choice!

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My doctor and the hospital I went to was great with working with me in wanting to try different positions for birthing. It really varies from doctor to doctor, so you need to be "this is what I want, can you work with me, or can you recommend me to another doctor that will?"

They had me walking, in the tub, sitting on the ball moving, sideways, hands and knees, squatting... 36 hrs later I had to have a C-section (for me it was the right option because my heart started to drop, daughter seemed just fine, but mommy's heart started to fade). I was very thankfully that the hospital/doctor/nurses really were trying their hardest for a natural birth, having me do this and that, a lot of freedom... but I did have down on paper what I wanted and they honored it until I said 'I am done' and they told me it would be best for me & baby to have a c-section.

Voice what you want, write down what you want, talk through it with the your doctor... my OBGYN had a great check list where I went through and said I wanted to try all of this first, did not want certian meds, and so on. I got a copy, she had a copy and the hospital I was going to had a copy.

This is a great website, I used one similar to help me focus my thoughts and what to ask my doc.

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It depends on the hospital, but once you're in there, they do pretty much what the want. I delivered my first born in a hospital, and the doc was supposed to be "progressive" (he would allow women in labor to eat popsicles instead of the ice chip diet). My doc had known that I wanted a drug free birth, and he even mentioned that I could sit up or lay on my left side on the bed, but when I got there, I was put in the stirrups and had no choice in the matter. I tried to turn on my side (I think my son was on my sciatic, so being on my back was extremely painful, but they didn't care) but wasn't "allowed" to. Keep in mind to that it's up to the doctor, and unless you're lucky you most likely won't have your doctor. My son was 9 lbs 4 oz BTW, and I think the side position would've been so much better. I delivered my daughter on my side (at a birthing center with a midwife) and that was SO much better. Also, you are less likely to tear if you deliver on your side. Hope this helps.

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It depends on the doctor and the hospital whether or not you'll be cooperated with in delivering in the squatting position. It certainly is a good idea, as the pelvic outlet is 20-30% larger when mom is in the squatting position.

Also, women walk around up to 4 cm dilated for weeks sometimes so be aware of this just in case it takes a little longer than your doc is hoping it will.
If you wait for your body and baby to be ready, you have a better chance at a natural birth. Honestly, caregivers who practice the midwifery model of care tend to find that unless a woman was severely malnourished as a child or had an accident that affected the pelvis, babies just tend not to grow to big for moms to give birth to them. The plates in baby's skull overlap to help it fit, and mom's joints are relaxed from pregnancy hormones. Problems come up when labor is induced, when mom isn't moving around during labor or pushing in physiologically functional positions, etc.

There are squatting bars that can be attached to the hospital bed but you have to ask the L&D department and your doc what they normally do. If you don't like what they do, you have the option to choose your caregivers and place of birth over your birth preferences, fight for your birth preferences (often doesn't go well), or change caregivers; it's not too late. Freedom to move during labor is also very important for most women giving birth naturally as it reduces pain and helps the baby to get in the best positions for birth. This is especially important for bigger babies. Here's a video that shows all the maneuvers a baby has to complete in order to be born: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duPxBXN4qMg&NR=1&f... I think it illustrates well the idea that mobility during labor is crucial for some moms to get the baby in position for a successful vaginal birth.

Finally, and I can't stress this enough, GET A DOULA!!!! I would never attempt a natural birth in a hospital without one. If you cannot afford an experienced one, there are certifying doulas who will often charge reduced rates; just ask one of these doulas and they'll do all they can to find someone who is a good fit for you.

Here are some great local doulas:





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You got some great advice from other moms and I agree that they should let you birth your child in any position you want. My only suggestion is that you talk over your options with your husband or someone else that will be in the room with you. Hospital staff is unlikely to suggest you move into a position that is less optimal for them and you may not remember what you want to do when the time comes. A supportive coach is your best bet.

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I had both my children drug free and in a hospital. With my second child, they did have to strip my membranes, but also drug free - so know that is definately OK and a possible.:)
Many hospitals now buy birthing beds that a "squat bar" attaches to. I used it with my second (a 9lb er) and it did take a little bit of work for them to get it assembled (not a whole lot, just not a "poof" here it is!). So let the L&D nurse you want the squat bar affixed to the bed.
This is a more natural way for your body to work and Hello! you have gravity on your side - woo hoo!
The new design allows for medical professionals to more easily access you and the baby.
Call the hospial and find out ASAP and remind your doctor of your ideal birthing plan and be prepared when it all changes - LOL!

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Don't let them break your waters. It doesn't always mean birth will automatically start right away and if there's a delay there is a greater risk of infection. It's for their convenience, not yours. Especially when they're bringing this up before your little ones actually due date, which is more of a guideline anyway AND since you've already started effacing & dilating. Your little one will show up on the day most perfect for them and I wouldn't mess with it unless there was a good medical reason for doing so (such as the cord being wrapped around the neck (my daughter) or you're three weeks late and your fluid levels have dropped significantly and endangering the life of your baby {a good friend}).

As for positions, you'll have to see what the staff at your hospital will allow. I was ever so thankful that my doc let me do whatever felt natural for me. I had quick easy births. My first I was on my back but elevated almost to a squatting position and my second I was on my hands & knees until right before the final push when I decided I wanted to be squatting.

I have no idea of your height or weight but a good friend of mine is about 5'6" and super skinny with narrow hips. Her husband is African, really big, and all of her babies are HUGE. She's had all of them at home, all have come in at around 9+ pounds and she's squatted for all of them. If it's at all possible, try to talk them into letting you squat, but if it's not, have them elevate your back as much as possible and put lots of pillows behind it. That will at least get you up and let gravity help you more.

It's so frustrating when they in their medical opinion tamper with how Nature planned things. Just relax and let things happen naturally. Congratulations on your little one. :)

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Just ask your Doctor. He/she will know and per the Hospital you are delivering at.
If you want another position, they they will probably need to know, ahead of time.
So that, your wishes, go as wished.

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I delivered in 3 differant hospitals and it was a very differant experiance in each one. I would ask the dr and the hospitalahead of time and be sure your wishes are documented in case your dr can't be reached and you end up with an "on call" dr. Even then, there are variables you just can't control. I was in one hospital in Katy Tx that was like a luxury spa. The place was swanky. I had a beautiful room that looked nothing like a hospital. Chef created meals, and I had a good rapport with my dr. but the delivery room staff were JERKS!!!! They wouldn't listen to a word I said and talked as though I weren't even in the room. They acted more like they were changing my oil than delivering a baby. Completely ruined my birth experience. I guess you can't plan for every contingency

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Both of my births were natural (drug free) in a hospital and were over 8 lbs. I had an OB with my 1st and they wanted me to have an IV during labor, with my 2nd I had a midwife and she allowed just a hep lock. My midwife allowed what was comfortable within the hospital "rules". My daughter was sunny side up and I ended up delivering her on my hands and knees, never thought I'd give birth that way but it was the only comfortable position for me. I was able to walk around during labor but most want you to stick with the bed at least during the pushing stage. I know of some woman who have delivered in bathtubs in hospitals but mine only has showers. Discuss it with your Dr. and find out if there are limitations.

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I delivered 3 big babies. My midwife (in the hospital) told me to do what was felt natural and felt 'good' to ME, regardless. I was standing up in the tub waiting for the water to finish running, bent over the sink. I didn't realize I was pushing, all I knew was that 'it' was easing the pain and she told me that she was ready if I was ready to deliver in the water even though the hospital didn't 'do' water births. She ran through all of the 'hospital' upgrades and options, but never pushed them on me. Hospitals have standard proceedure, but my midwife was open to other possibilities to suit me.

I also did a hands/knees birth and she broke my water (she told me she could deliver him in the bag of waters if I wanted, but I didn't want!).

If the hospital had had those curtain things you wrap around you to hold you up while you squatted and birthed, I would have done that. For me, gravity has been awesome three times!

Whatever you decide, just keep an open mind for potential changes and complications.


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Most hospitals will not allow squatting, on hands and knees or leaning over the bed. They want you on your back because it's the easiest way for the OB to catch the baby and see what is going on. It is NOT anatomically logical or sound to birth a baby that way. Try to make them incline your upper body as MUCH as possible!!

As for the breaking of waters - simply REFUSE it. There is no medical necessity for it, just estimations and hypothesizing - which can (and usually is) wrong.

I recall my friend being in a number of postitions trying to give birth until they realized she needed a c-section ... I would simply talk to your doctor about what they suggest, and explore all options on keeping to "your plan" but always remember this is a baby ... your plans do not really matter.

If you are 3cm and 50% you have a great start and will most likely be further along next week, so I wouldn't worry too much about having the dr. break your bag of water. I wouldn't worry about birth positions, it's great to have a plan and different ideas. That said, many things can happen during labor and birth so the one thing you should prepare for is the unexpected, it almost never goes how you think or want! It's best to stay positive and calm and do what's best for the baby.

Congrats on the upcoming birth! Squatting shortens the birth canal by 20% which means it will be faster to get baby out and you also have more leverage to push. I delivered in water at a birthing center and was squatting but every time the midwife checked on baby's heart rate she said he didn't like that position and so I had to change to make sure baby was okay. I pushed for twenty minutes which seemed like eternity but I eventually did it. I must say that it was harder than the squatting position because I had no leverage.

You may be able to squat on the bed. Most hospital beds can convert and they have a squat bar which is at the end of the bed so you can squat while holding onto the bar for leverage.

Good Luck! Hope you have the birth you want.

Hey -
Just FYI, you can have your water broken and still deliver naturally. I did. My baby was 9lbs 3 ounces. I did deliver in the hospital and I spent ALL day on a birthing ball. Actually lying down or being in the bed nauseated me and I could not stand to be near the bed. At first, I listened to the nurses and when they wanted to check how far I was dilated, I would get on the bed and they would check (and I was miserable). After a while, I asked them ,"Do you REALLY have to check?" They said no they did not - if I absolutely was not going to get an epidural. Since I was not, they left me alone the rest of the day - until it was time. I have no idea how they knew it was time - I guess by the rate of the contractions. But, I got on the bed and started pushing and he came out (I actually had to beg the doctor to cut me because I could feel his head wanting to come out, but not actually coming out. She didn't want to cut me since I was not on any pain medication, but I literally begged and she did it (I didn't feel it at all) and he popped out shortly after that).

I think you need to talk with your doctor about what they allow in the birthing room. I'm not sure if they would allow squating just because the floor is probably not sterile and they personally probably don't want to be down on their hands and knees.

Good luck!

With my second I labored almost entirely at home. When I got to the hospital I was 7 1/2 cm. I stayed home as long as I could and then decided it was time. I labored at the hospital for only a hour before I started pushing and that was just enough time to do all the paper work. My dr offered to strip my membranes and I thought about it and researched it, we decided against bc of the risks involved. My dr said my youngest was going to be big also but he actually ended up being smaller than my first. My advise, wait it out at home as long as you can and walk walk walk. You know your body better than anyone.

It depends, you definitely need to talk this over with your doctor.

I had a natural birth in a hospital with a midwife and we discussed my preferences way before I was due. One item that comes up when you give birth in a hospital is continuous fetal monitoring. The strap on monitors only work properly when you are laying on your back. So unless you have a healthcare provider who is willing to let you go with intermittent monitoring AND is willing to do the monitoring with a handheld device, they will likely restrict your movement.

Any position that you feel comfortable in the the ideal position to labor, no matter the size of you baby.

Good luck!

With my second, the bed was elevated and they dropped the 2nd half of the bed and it was so easy delivering him that way. My SIL hung from a bar and delivered that way. Both were done in hospitals, so around here anyways, they let you deliver how ever is comfortable for you.

Glad you are progressing but to think the baby can't grow bigger than you can birth is not true. I am 5feet tall and had a 9lb 2oz baby boy that broke his collarbone coming out of the birth canal. It depends on several factors. Really, you have instincts and doctors have training and experience and I would trust a combo of both. Really, I have spent a lot of time in the newborn intensive care for different reasons and I urge you to put your child first.

my doctor told me I could labor any position I wanted to, but when I delivered, they just needed to me able to see what was going on, and if you're squatting it makes their jobs harder. but if you're ready to push and and you want to squat, do it. they will make it work, if that's what you want. do you have a birth plan? it helps to have one and post it on your door for all doctors/nurses to see. you can state there that you want the freedom to deliver in any position you wish (obviously if it's not a risk to you or your baby)

I was worried about the same thing, but I didn't make it all the way with a natural birth, I ended up getting an epidural. but my doctors were really supportive of my plan.

As long as you don't have an epidural, most hospitals really are very open to different birthing positions- ours even offered a water birth!

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