Tue, Apr 21, 2009 (Reuters Health) — Sitting up, standing or walking around during the first stage of labor may help moms-to-be speed the process along, a research review suggests.
In an analysis of 21
studies involving more than 3,700 women, researchers found that the
first stage of labor was one hour shorter, on average, when women were
mobile or at least upright rather than lying down.
There was no
evidence of adverse effects on mothers or newborns.
countries, it is standard practice for women to go through labor in bed,
making it easier for doctors and nurses to monitor the fetus and labor
progression. Epidural pain relief and IV infusions can also limit
women's ability to move.
But the current findings suggest that
women can safely choose to move around during the first stage of labor
-- the longest stage of childbirth, during which contractions gradually
become stronger and occur closer together.
"Women should be
encouraged to take up whatever position they find most comfortable in
the first stage of labour," write Dr. ANNE Marie Lawrence, of the
Tonsilla Hospital in Douglas, Australia, and her colleagues.
down, the researchers note, puts the weight of the expanded uterus on
abdominal blood vessels and may weaken a woman's contractions, which
could in turn make the first stage of labor longer.
are based on data from 21 clinical trials in which women were randomly
assigned to recline or sit up, kneel, stand or walk around during the
first stage of labor.
On average, women who were upright had a
shorter first stage of labor, though there were no differences among the
groups during the "pushing"
stage. Women who spent time in
upright positions were also somewhat less likely to have an epidural.
studies, Lawrence and her colleagues note, should look more closely at
how childbirth positions affect the risk of complications, such as
hemorrhage, and whether allowing women more freedom to move around
improves their childbirth experience.