During the birth planning session, I often hear from clients about their desire to be able to move around during labor. A common fear about hospital births is the potential to be confined to the bed. Most women don’t feel empowered if they are told to stay put, especially when they are uncomfortable or in pain. But this is not just about having some control over their bodies, this may actually be about a better way to labor.

Gravity is a force that acts on us every day, and when you’re pregnant, you’re more aware of it.

Your extra weight is a bit harder to carry around, your balance is off and gravity may win in a stumble, your legs and feet may swell after a long day of walking around, etc.

But in labor, gravity is a force for good. It is helping draw your baby down as he tries to squirm his way out.

If you are lying down, your baby actually has to go “up” to come out after he works his head under the public bone. It’s a pretty snug fit in there and takes hard work on his part (and of course yours) to squeeze his way through. Using gravity as you move around is actually a great way to help him out (and of course this helps you too!)

Even if you need to be monitored (intermittently or continually) you can still move around near the bed, taking small walks along the side, sitting on a birth ball, or standing and leaning over on the bed. And if you are planning on an epidural, which will mean that you’ll need to stay in the bed, take the moments before to stay upright. Every moment can help to keep labor progressing and the contractions effective.

As your doula, I’m going to encourage you to move around and be there to physically support you as you do.

Note: check out this hospital in Minnesota that’s adding a new way for their clients to ambulate during labor.

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