Can I Ambulate Freely During Labor?

Ambulation During Labor

When most people think of labor, they assume that they will be confined to the bed.  Ambulation (walking/moving around) during labor has many benefits, and it is said "if you can't move the mother, you can't move the baby." Not all care providers will allow free ambulation in labor, and/or may specifically limit positions to labor on the bed alone.  If you'd like to utilize free ambulation during labor, be sure to consult your obstetrical care provider.


Will I be able to ambulate freely during labor or will I be confined to the bed?


Ambulation supports changing the shape of the pelvis during labor to assist with optimal fetal positioning and the normal movement and rotations of the baby through the pelvis, assists the descent of the baby with the help of gravity (instead of pushing baby “uphill”), feels much more instinctive and makes the birthing waves more tolerable which helps to avoid an epidural and its associated risks, and is associated with lower risk of C/S. Trials that have compared these positions to the supine (lying down position) have found that, on average, labor was experienced as less painful (there was less need for analgesia) and augmentation (Pitocin use) was used less frequently in the non-supine positions (Chan 1963, Flynn et al 1978, McManus and Calder 1978, Diaz et al 1980, Williams et al 1980, Hemminki 1983, Melzack 1991). No birthing woman, left to her own devices, would EVER assume a dorsal (laying down on her back) position to labor and birth in.  Once you are in labor, you will immediately see why…..

Sources:

  • Chan DPC. Positions during labour. Br Med J 1963; i:100-102.
  • Flynn AM, Kelly J, Hollins G, Lynch PF. Ambulation in labour. Br Med J 1978; 2:591-593
  • McManus TJ, Calder AA. Upright posture and the efficiency of labour. Lancet 1978; 1:72-74.
  • Diaz AG, Schwarcz R, Fescina R, Caldeyro-Barcia R. Vertical position during the first stage of the course of labor, and neonatal outcome. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1980; 11:1-7.
  • Williams RM, Thorn MH, Studd JWW. A study of the benefits and acceptability of ambulation in spontaneous labour. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1980; 87:122-126
  • Hemminki E, Saarikoski S. Ambulation and delayed amniotomy in the first stage of labor. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1983; 15:129-139.
  • Melzack R, Belanger E, Lacroix R. Labor pain, effect of maternal position on front and back pain. J Pain symptom Manegem 1991; 6:476-480.