Women's Health Base

A look at women, the world and the web

Interview with Dr Maggie Blott, vice president of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Posted by hannahflynn on April 26, 2009

Dr Maggie Blott is the vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, she spoke to me recently about the truth behind the headlines on a recent Cochrane review, which found women who remain upright during the first stage of labour have shorter and less painful deliveries.

So, does walking around during labour make it any shorter and less painful?

“[These headlines are] because of a Cochrane review which found women who were upright during the early stages of labour, whether that was standing, walking, kneeling or squatting had a shorter first stage of labour and were less likely to ask for pain relief, well … big pain relief anyway, like epidurals.”

How does this affect current recommendations?

Low risk women without any complications should keep upright and mobile as much as possible and get up and move around; use a ball or change positions. For high risk women who need to be monitored frequently throughout, we recommend that [any monitoring] doesn’t stop them being mobile.

What is the mechanism behind this?

That’s a good question! We are not sure what the exact mechanism is but I think it is probably simply gravity and the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix, which leads to more effective contractions. And it aids the rotation of the baby’s head into the right position, which is more favourable for a normal delivery.

Lawrence A, et al. Maternal positions and mobility during first stage of labor. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 2, 2009.

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