Practices that Promote Healthy Birth Series: Moving During Labor

Walking, moving, changing positions is something we do not often hear women doing during labor anymore. The new standard of care is typically a laboring mother on her back in bed. Which brings me to the second practice that helps promote healthy birth: Moving around during labor. If you ask women who have given birth naturally–without any type of pain medication–they will tell you the number one thing that helped was staying mobile during labor.

To get a better understanding of movement during labor, check out the Mother’s Advocate & Lamaze video for Better Birth on moving around :

There is no right or wrong way to move during labor, or any specific movements that may help more or less than another. It is all up to the mother to determine while she is laboring what works best for her. It is the act of moving itself and having the freedom to move which is key in the situation.

Position changing and moving during labor helps to make labor easier by:

  • Walking around and moving helps your uterus work more effectively.
  • Actively responding to labor and “embracing” your contractions helps to make you more confident about your experience and the outcome you will have.
  • Staying active helps to move your pelvic bones and guide your baby through the pelvis in the most effective way.
  • Laying on your side, leaning forward, or being upright helps to encourage the blood flow to you and your baby to help descrease the chance of your baby going into distress.
  • Upright positions help to assist the baby to come down into the birth canal with gravity.

Me, moving during labor

Maintaining mobility certainly is key. A 2005 survey of women who birthed in hospitals found that only 1 in 4 women were free and able to walk freely while in labor, so it is important to talk to your health care provider about your mobility options during your birth experience.

During my second birth I was able to move around, walk, dance, sit on my birth ball, shower, and freely move. I found a drastic difference in my labors and the amount of pain I was in with contractions. Moving around helped me with pain relief greatly. I find most other mothers I talk to had the same experience with moving during labor.

Some different moving options during labor include:

  • Walking
  • Soaking in a bath tub or birth tub
  • Squatting
  • Sitting on a birth ball, which can also be used in a squatting position
  • Different comfortable furniture, such as rocking chairs, couches, or chairs
  • Use a CD player with some music that may help you to move or groove to a rhythm

Some things that may hinder movement during your labor experience are IVs and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Some hospitals may require an IV during labor. If that is the case, speak to your provider about having a hep lock in the place of an IV if possible. A hep lock opens a line in your hand or arm that can quickly be attached to an IV if necessary. As for continuous electronic fetal monitoring, ask your provider to be monitored intermittently or for a portable fetal monitor if available. These things will make it so you are not continuously attached to anything allowing for more freedom to move around and remain active during labor.



Avatar of Danielle ElwoodAbout Danielle Elwood
Danielle is a mother of two young boys, Camden and Benjamin, born born via cesarean section under very different circumstances. Since the birth of her first child – a failed induction – Danielle realized the heavy need for childbirth education in her local shoreline community in Connecticut and has dedicated her time towards blogging and writing for local publications on the issues. Read more from Danielle at

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