Why is an active birth better?

Why is an active birth better?

Almost every soap opera or TV program depicts a woman in labour lying flat on her back on a hospital bed screaming, or in a lift or a car in a flat panic. Why? Because it makes good TV; we enjoy drama.

Evidence suggests that lying on your back during birth prolongs labour. It slows down your surges.

For most of pregnancy it’s recommended that you avoid lying flat on your back, why would this change on the day you are birthing your baby?

The fact is that being upright and forward (ie not lying down) is a far better way to birth.

 In this blog I’m going to share 10 reasons why.

1) Gravity. When you are in an upright position (standing, squatting or kneeling) your body is in harmony with the downward force of gravity which assists uterine surges, and bearing down. Lying down forces you to push your baby uphill.

2) During pregnancy hormones soften the ligaments around the pelvic joints to increase flexibility. When you are upright you can make the most of this increased flexibility. 

3) When a woman avoids lying on her back during birth there is less pressure on the pelvic nerves which means less discomfort.

4) The entrance of the baby’s head to the inlet of your pelvis is easiest when you are upright because in this position the pelvic inlet points forward and the outlet downwards – this gives your baby the easiest way out!

Image courtesy of    Doula Sophie    in the Netherlands, thank you.

Image courtesy of Doula Sophie in the Netherlands, thank you.

5) The uterus tends to tilt forwards during surges.  When upright you can lean forward which assists your uterus to do its job effectively without resistance.

6) An active birth means there is better circulation around the placenta which means a steady flow of oxygen to your baby.

7) Being upright assists the direct application of your baby’s head to the dilating cervix which results in more efficient, faster dilation.  Plus if you can move around there is a lot more opportunity for cuddles and light touch massage with your birthing partner – that brings on the oxytocin which helps the whole process go far more smoothly – and it feels great because it’s the love or cuddle hormone!

8) Upright and forward reduces the risk of repair work to your perineum (less risk of tearing) because the perineal tissues can expand more evenly and pull back around the baby’s emerging head.

 9) Being upright helps a successful and spontaneous separation of the placenta, and reduces the need for a managed third stage, and the risk of postpartum infection.

10) Do you feel empowered lying on your back where it’s tricky to move? Being able to move around during labour and birth is a useful way to lower the stress hormones in your body, provides a helpful change of scenery, can help speed up labour, helps you to feel in more control and in short – is far more effective.


Being free to change position during labour is more important than trying to find one optimum position which on the day you might not feel is right for you. Explore, build strength in your body, and most of all keep an open mind. Your birth preferences are allowed to change on the day because they are YOURS. Look at the evidence: being upright and forward can create up to 30% more space in your pelvis, who’s going to say no to that?!  

This is your body, your baby, your choice.

 If you’d like to find out how to increase the efficiency of your labour and birth and what you can do between now and then to enjoy a fear free pregnancy and create a better birth check out the full hypnobirthing and antenatal education course with me, and join our prenatal yoga class in Hebden Bridge.

Come and join us on facebook - I’m creating a friendly community of women who want to birth in calm confidence and trust in their capability.

Big baby snuggles,

Sophia xx


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