The Choreography of Labor: I

April 22, 2019

Labor positions are to labor as choreography is to dance. 

As a dancer has practiced steps that have been either taught, or come naturally, so does a woman with positions during labor.

Labor positions are movements and poses that a woman takes during labor to ease discomfort and help her baby move down into the pelvis. A balance of movement and rest can shorten labor and make for a less painful childbirth experience as the woman finds positions that are comfortable for her.

An anatomy lesson

During the first stage of labor, the cervix dilates (opens) from 0 centimeters to 10 centimeters. This happens in three phases: early labor (0-3cm), active labor (4-7cm), and transition (8-10cm). There is a lot that happens to the body and the cervix for this to happen. 

Enter Labor Positions.

Labor positions act as a birth catalyst and comfort measure to a laboring woman. 

When the pelvis is moved and opened, it assists the baby down further into the birth canal which in turn opens up the cervix with each contraction. There are many positions and movements that work with gravity to achieve this. Positions such as walking, semi-assisted lunges, and squatting, all increase pelvic diameter. Have you seen those viral videos of women dancing during labor and thought, “Why would anyone dance during labor?” This is why. 

With each position change, the pelvic joints move slightly allowing for the baby to move down and rotate properly. The various sitting positions such as sitting on a toilet, supported sitting, or sitting on a birth ball allow for rest but continued opening of the pelvis.  

Changing positions keeps the laboring woman on a mission by giving her something other than her pain and discomfort to focus on, especially when she is feeling defeated or extremely uncomfortable. There are endless options and variations of these positions whether you’re using a bed, hospital bed, tub, hallway, chair, toilet, or birth partner. A woman does what is comfortable and feels safe from contraction to contraction.

As a choreographer is to dance, a doula is to labor. 

The balance of movement and rest is a dance that women can find naturally but all can benefit from the confident guidance and reassurance of a doula who can seamlessly guide a laboring woman and partner through the motions. A woman may feel stuck, panicked, or unsure at certain phases of the labor. A doula is able to calmly assist, remind, and take charge when needed. 

Every labor is as unique as the woman experiencing it, as well as the choreography that goes right along with it.

What did the choreography of your labor look like?




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