UFO - not just for hypnobirthing!

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UFO - upright, forward, over!⁠⁠

When you're in labour, whatever type or labour you have, whether you did hypnobirthing or not, you don't want to be lying down flat if you can at all help it. You want to be moving around, squatting, standing, side-lying, bent over your (hospital) bed, on all fours on the floor - upright, forward, over!⁠⁠

Why? Because being upright (sitting on a birthing ball for instance), leaning forward (on all fours for instance) or resting over a bed, ball, chair, all help to open your cervix and assist baby in moving down.

Positions for labour and birth

There isn't just one best birthing position for you – it’s a really good idea to change position during labour so you don't develop a cramp or strain your muscles. Use pillows as support. Even using hypnosis, you can continue to be active in changing positions, moving around. This will enhance the widening of the birth path and shorten this phase of labour, which will reduce the likelihood of an episitomy. 

The polar bear position can take pressure off the rectum. It can also give the baby more room to move.

On hands and knees

If being in an upright position gets tiring, or the contractions are too fast or overwhelming, an all-fours position is useful. It gets gravity to work for you. It can slow down contractions, and is also good for easing back labour, which occurs when the baby is positioned with the back of his head pressing against the rear of your pelvis.

Kneeling

If you want to remain upright, but no longer feel comfortable walking, try kneeling on a pillow. This can help if baby is pressing against your spine.

Squatting

Squatting is especially effective when you're ready to push. In fact, squatting is sometimes called the "midwife's forceps" because of its ability to work with, not against, gravity, enlarge the pelvic opening and speed the pushing phase of labour. Many women find sitting on the toilet comfortable. Try squatting supported by your birth partner, a beanbag, or a low stool.

Standing

The more upright you are, the more you let gravity aid you. During the first stage, simply walking around can help your labour to progress but take care not to become too tired. Get your birth partner to support you in a standing squat, or lean against a wall.

Sitting

Sit on an exercise (birthing) ball and gently bounce baby out. You can also sit on the edge of a bed or a chair and gently rock back and forth. Try sitting with one knee bent and the other relaxed. Don't lean too far back. When you sit, your uterus drops forward, improving the blood supply to the contracting muscles and easing pressure on your diaphragm. Use cushions (or your partner) for support.

Lying on Your Side

A sideways position is good if you're tired or have had an epidural. It takes weight off the main blood supply to the baby and reduces tension on your perineum.

UFO (upright, forward, over)

This can help make uterine contractions more effective in bringing the baby down. Drape your chest over a table, bed, kitchen counter, pillow or exercise ball.

Lunge

Place one foot on a sturdy chair or footstool and lean into that foot during contractions.

Sway

Put your arms around your partner's neck and sway back and forth; pretend you're slow dancing.

Practicing for labour

As your labour progresses, you'll need to listen to your body. As you change positions, your baby will find the best way to fit through the birth canal.

If you practice squatting during pregnancy, it will be easier during labour. If you try squatting down right now, you can probably feel where your upper leg bones, the femora, are attached to your pelvic bones. When you squat, the leg bones act like levers to widen your pelvic outlet by 20 to 30 percent. In the privacy of your own home, assume each one of the other positions. Which position seems to be most comfortable? Next time you watch TV, try squatting and see how long you can last!

You're taking full advantage of gravity in any of these positions which is really helpful. ⁠⁠Listen to your body and go with what feels right for you - you can also read more about this from the NCT.⁠