Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Proper Posture Can Mean a Better Outcome in Labor and Delivery

I spent the last month and half of my first pregnancy semi-reclining on the couch (watching Scrubs on DVD) for the majority of the day. I felt I had good reason: My back was achey all the time and walking for more than 15 mins made it feel one hundred times worse. I felt huge. It was hot outside (90- 100 degrees plus humidity). I was sweaty just existing. And I was just bored. What else could I do but watch endless hours of Scrubs while waiting for my little girl to show up?

Well for one thing I could have sat up. Or laid down.
Being in a semi-reclining position for so much time is one of the worst things I could have been doing.
(Both in regards to aiding labor to start, and in regards to getting my baby into a good position -- which I have since learned go hand in hand.)
But I didn't know that!

My daughter didn't engaged until my induction, at 42 weeks, was underway. And she never tucked her chin or got her head aligned straight. So after two hours of pushing she was stuck, as stuck could get, and was born via cesarean.

Months after her birth, I googled information her birth position and came upon a wealth of knowledge!
And I am really glad. I am using all that knowledge to my benefit during this, my second pregnancy.
So I wanted to share what I've learned with you, so hopefully you can benefit from it too!

Here's the scoop:

Our posture and muscle tension affects uterine ligaments and tone. The effect comes from habit. Uneven postures used habitually over time can tilt the womb, tighten uterine and cervical ligaments on one side which twists the uterus. This can keep the baby from getting into a proper position. This can mean anything from the baby staying breech, to the baby staying posterior (causing long, hard back labor) or the baby not getting their chin tucked making it hard for baby to fit through the birth canal.

Additionally, a huge factor in labor starting, is the baby's weight pressing down on the cervix. If your baby stays floating, and doesn't engage (the way my baby did) it's very hard for your body to start to labor as its not getting the signal to. Good posture and proper body alignment are the main ways to ensure that the baby can press down on your cervix, and get those prostaglandins flowing to get labor to start.

So it is very important to adopt proper poster and habits as soon as you are pregnant. (Actually it would be even better to start before you become pregnant, if it is in your means to do so.) Sometimes this, in and of itself, is not enough to correct the problem and seeking professional help from a Chiropractor would be a huge benefit.

So what can you do?

Its very important to move symmetrically.
Don't twist to view a computer, or do your work. 
Are you holding your toddler on one hip? Balance by trading sides. 

How to stand:

Sitting in the car:

Sit closer to the steering wheel, rather than farther. This will help you keep your back straight. You want to have both knees bent. (At the end of pregnancy, your belly may cause you to need to back up a bit.) And make sure you have your weight placed evenly on your hips. (Its very common to sit a bit cockeyed with your weight placed more on your right hip, as that leg is the focus of the driving. Its easy to correct this if you just take notice and adjust yourself.)


Sit symmetrically.
Don't cross one leg over the other, that can contort your posture, throwing your spine and pelvis off balance.

If you are going to sit, sit up right. Don't slouch. (Couches and Recliners are not your friend!) 
Its best to sit in firm chairs. 
Even better to sit on a kitchen chair backwards, so you can lean forward just a bit.
If you are feeling sassy, you can do this awesome hair flip! ;)
(Actually, you're right, she is NOT symmetrical -- just testing you! You passed!)

Or sit on a birth ball/ physical therapy ball/ exercise ball. 
A ball helps your hip keep moving, which is good for helping the baby settle in a good position.
When using an exercise ball make sure your hips are not lower than your knees! 
Keep a straight back. (This actually takes a bit of effort, but is going to help you keep up some core strength -- good for labor, good for motherhood.)

Or Tailor sit on the floor.

You can work towards being able to get your heels this close to your body over time. 

At first you can sit more cross-legged and continue to stretch yourself.

This type of sitting is great for helping baby get into best position. And it helps you maintain flexibility for labor and delivery.

You can also use the time sitting on the floor,
to do some butterfly movements with your knees
 for a bit more stretch and better preparation for birth.

Another more active position, which is GREAT for you,

One thing I like to do is try and fold my laundry while maintaing this position.
(Imagine that ball is a basket of clothes!)

This is a natural position for labor and delivery. Being in this position can widen your pelvic outlet by 30%! 
That 30% can be useful both while allowing the baby to move down during labor, as well as during the pushing stage.
So, it would really be in your best interest to have the muscle tone to maintain this position for extended amounts of time -- which means practice, practice, practice!


When you are laying, lay all the way down, don't semi-recline. 

Of course, while pregnant you should be laying on your side. 
Supporting your weight by placing a pillow between your knees or leaning against a body pillow will take pressure off your lower back and allow your spine to be in its natural position while you lie.
(That's going to help your body let the baby settle down in a proper position.)

So those are ways to help your body to be balanced while resting or going about normal activity that allow your baby the best chance to settle into your pelvis in an optimal way.

There are also daily activities you can add into your daily routine to get even more positive results in labor. 
But I thought I would break that into its own post. 
Stay tuned!

* Click here for more of my healthy pregnancy tips

(Update 7/18/12: After employing these and other helpful things, I did go on to have a safe and healthy VBAC. You can read my birth story here.)


  1. Thank you for sharing! I am now following you via GFC. This is such helpful information. I always knew how important good posture was but never really tried to put into play. I found you via Pinterest BTW. Are you going to try and VBAC with this pregnancy?

    Diana @ Nanny to Mommy

    1. So glad you you find it helpful, Diana! :) I love hearing something I learned can help someone else.
      I actually did get to have a VBAC for my second pregnancy. I am so grateful for it. I still think about it all the time, nine months later!
      (If you are interested, here is the birth story: )
      Let me know if you have any questions about anything, I love offering up what I've learned.

  2. Thank you very much for this informative post...
    posture support


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