Seven ways to ease your labor

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Labor is a process – one that's both exhilarating and exhausting. Labor involves several phases with variations in intensity. And while pain medication is always available, several labor positions may bring comfort and ease to the birthing process, especially in the early stages.

"As labor nurses, our primary objective is to ensure you have a great experience and a great outcome — the birth of a healthy baby," said Kathy Priester, a certified registered nurse at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center. "Collectively, we have literally helped women give birth to thousands of babies, and we have some great suggestions about how to transition through the stages of labor."

First, walking is a great way to keep labor moving along. Stay active and upright as long as you can. You can also incorporate rocking (either sitting or standing) and swaying, if it seems to help.

Seven ways to ease your labor

Other positions can help facilitate labor, as well. Each woman is different. So, what might have worked for your sister or friend may not be right for you. Try what works for you. That may include one or more these positions, balls or a tub:

  1. Squatting.
  2. Lying on your side.
  3. Leaning or kneeling forward with support.
  4. Getting on your hands and knees.
  5. Using a large birthing ball (similar to what you might find at the gym). Sitting, swaying and rocking on the ball can help open the pelvis.
  6. Relax in a Jacuzzi tub that might also help ease pressure. No water births, though — just the option of laboring in the tub.
  7. Using the peanut ball, an exercise "ball" shaped like a peanut. This can help during labor, but can also be used if you've had an epidural. The peanut ball is placed between your legs while you're lying on your side. This can help open your pelvis while you're in a relaxed position. Studies have shown this can even reduce the length of labor. Using a peanut ball may even help guide your baby into a favorable position for delivery.

"It's important to trust your nurse," Kathy said. "We're there to help you every step of the way, and we can suggest movements and positions that can truly help. Our goal is to ensure safe passage for your baby and do everything we can to make sure you have a positive and memorable experience."

HonorHealth offers a variety of childbirth classes that can help make your labor easier.