Research has found that women who spend labor in upright positions tend to have less pain and shorter labors, Janke says. That’s why she suggests staying out of bed as much as possible and letting gravity assist. “It’s the best way to avoid complications,” she explains. During the first stage of labor, walking around and sitting in a Jacuzzi or on a birthing ball are great ideas. Then, when you’re ready to push, she recommends squatting, which can open up your pelvic outlet and reduce the likelihood that a forceps or vacuum extraction will be necessary. It also can protect your perineum so you’re less likely to tear. Since holding yourself in a squat position can be tiring, you can start preparing your leg muscles now by practicing it a few times a day, Klein says.
If you want to keep labor from stalling, don’t stay in one position too long, Downey advises. Instead, keep shifting around as often as you can, or at least every 30 minutes. “The descent of the fetus happens much more readily when you keep moving,” she explains. If you’re stuck in bed because you’re being induced with Pitocin or getting an epidural, you can still get really creative and try different things, Downey adds. Talk to your labor nurse, midwife or doula to find out your best options.