The importance of upright positions in labour and birth

There are many reasons why I think every hospital should have a CUB, and why every birthing woman should have access to one.

Women have used upright positions throughout history

Throughout history and around the world, women have used both upright and gravity-neutral positions to push their babies out. Objects like posts, rebozos and ropes have been used to gain better leverage, women have also used birth supports or stools.

If you have ever used a birth stool or seen one, you would have noticed that they are either made of wood or rigid plastic – they can be hard and uncomfortable for the mother to use and can’t be used for extended periods of time.

The CUB can be used as a comfortable support not only throughout labour and birth of the baby but can also be used during pregnancy to help encourage baby to adopt an ideal position for birth.

It’s innovative and versatile design means that it can be comfortably used to lean over-supporting an ‘all fours’ position, lean against in a kneeling position, relax and rest against when necessary or to sit on. Most women will instinctively find their own position during labour and birth.

Upright doesn’t just mean standing

Upright doesn’t mean standing only, and whilst this is a great position to labour and give birth in, it is not the only upright position. Other positions include sitting upright (as shown above), kneeling on all fours or squatting using a Comfortable Upright Birth (CUB) support, being held and supported by your birth partner and lying on your side.

The CUB allows mothers to adopt and maintain positions that are not only the most comfortable but physically the most helpful for them and their baby during labour, making giving birth easier, faster and most importantly, safer!

The benefits of upright positions

Upright positions during birth (sitting, kneeling, squatting, and all fours) have been the topic of much research in recent years, and the results of the research are dramatically in favour, these are the advantages of upright positions:

  • Being upright during labour and birth can increase the available space within your pelvis by 28-30% giving more room for baby to be born
  • Your contractions are more effective. Some preliminary studies have shown that an upright position in labour is as effective as an Oxytocin (Pitocin) infusion in stimulating contractions
  • Your baby is 54% less likely to become distressed during labour and birth if you are in an upright position
  • The length of the first stage of labour, between 3-10 centimetres can be significantly less when you remain upright, active and mobile
  • Upright positions reduce the duration of the second stage (pushing stage) of labour
  • Being upright has been shown to result in a 23% reduction in medically assisted deliveries- more space, less distress and a shorter labour results in fewer necessary interventions
  • A 21% reduction in rates of episiotomy (a cut made to the area between your vagina and anus) in women who give birth in an upright position
  • A 29% reduction in emergency caesarean sections
  • Mothers have a reduced need for epidural pain relief when they are upright

The positions you use during your labour and the birth can have a huge impact on you, your baby and your labour. With lots of research supporting the benefits of upright positions, you can make your labour shorter, make giving birth easier whilst reducing the risks of complications during the birth.

Author: Gemma WilsonBirthability

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