Context: Clinically preferred maternal position during childbirth has varied between supine and nonsupine over time and from patient to patient. Preferred maternal birthing position is coming under increasing scrutiny.
Objective: To compare postpartum maternal and infant outcomes resulting from supine and nonsupine positions maintained during the second stage of labor.
Design and methods: Nonrandomized clinical trial comparing low-risk women (N=198) in two separate obstetrics practices. In one practice, parturients (n=100) used only the supine position as their birthing position. In the other practice, parturients (n=98) used any or all of three nonsupine positions (sitting, squatting, or kneeling/hands-and-knees). Data collection took place immediately after birth by provider survey and included: Apgar scores, demographics, estimated blood loss, neonatal weight, perineal integrity, position during second-stage labor and birth, and vulvar edema.
Results: Infants born to mothers in nonsupine positions were delivered with significantly less tearing of the perineum (P<.001) and less vulvar edema (P<.001). Although the length of second-stage labor was shorter among the women who were nonsupine, this result lacked statistical significance. There did not appear to be increased risk to the infant from the mother's nonsupine posture.
Conclusion: Nonsupine positions during labor and delivery were found to have clinical advantages without risk to mother or infant. Enhanced maternal outcomes included improved perineal integrity, less vulvar edema, and less blood loss.