Lay down? Sit still? No way. Here, 10 reasons you should most definitely move your body during labor.

By Holly Pevzner
June 23, 2016
Pregnant woman wearing striped top in labor, holding back
Credit: Shutterstock

As tempting as it may be to curl up in a small ball when contractions hit, there are plenty of good reasons (pain relief, for starters!) to get a move on when you're in labor.

1. It quells pain. Whether you're doing the Whip/Nae Nae up and down the hospital halls or are wiggling back and forth on a birthing ball, activity is an important and effective distraction from discomfort. Plus, it gives moms-to-be a chance to release all of that laboring muscle tension, which also quiets pain. In fact, back labor pains get markedly worse when almost-ready-to-push moms are lying down, according to a study in Nursing Research.

2. You may just need fewer meds. See above. Plus, research tells us so: A meta-analysis featured in The Cochrane Library found that vertical and in-motion laborers request less pain meds, including epidurals.

3. It's empowering! Getting strapped down with IVs and monitors and wires can make a girl feel all vulnerable and POed, like Princess Leia when she was shackled to big ol gross Jaba the Hutt. It's no fun, whether you're the leader of the Rebel Alliance or the soon-to-be leader of a brand-new family. You know what it is fun, though? Dancing like no one (even the orderlies and the OBs) is watching.

4. Gravity, yo. When you're a pregnant lady with a baby itching to exit your nether regions, being upright is a smart move. Why? You are using the powerful force of gravity to help bring that baby down. (Think of it this way: Have you ever once thought it was a good idea to lay down when taking a poop? Um, no.)

5. It just may speed dilation. It turns out that an upright and moving mom-to-be helps baby's head put extra pressure on the cervix, which can help you dilate faster.

6. You may be able to keep your bits intact. Episiotomy, the word that sends a million pregnant women into a spontaneous leg cross, may actually be more easily avoided when moms-to-be move-it, move-it during labor. In fact, women who frequently changed positions during the second stage of labor experience a significant reduction in perineal trauma—that's cuts and tears—according to a study in the International Urogynecology Journal.

7. Everyone else is doing it! It's not that we need to copy-cats or anything, but it's pretty telling when you realizes that women in most developing countries stand or walk around as they wish during the early stages of birth.

8. It can make labor shorter. Getting horizontal during the early stages of childbirth may actually slow your progress, notes a report in the Cochrane Collaboration. On the flip, researchers found that women who moved around at the start of labor were able to shave as much as one hour (!!) off their birthing time.

9. The experts totally support it. Here's the official word from the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group, a respected international organization that defines best practices based on research: Allowing a laboring woman the freedom to move and choose her own position is beneficial.

10. You're actually widening your birth canal. When you walk or wiggle or dance around in labor, the bones in your pelvis quite literally move, which helps your baby-to-be find his or her best fit through your birth canal.