Does pregnancy and/or shifting positions create more room in a woman's pelvis?

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Dec;211(6):662.e1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.06.029. Epub 2014 Jun 17.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of different positions on pelvic diameters by comparing pregnant and nonpregnant women who assumed a dorsal supine and kneeling squat position.

Study design: In this cohort study from a tertiary referral center in Germany, we enrolled 50 pregnant women and 50 nonpregnant women. Pelvic measurements were obtained with obstetric magnetic resonance imaging pelvimetry with the use of a 1.5-T scanner. We compared measurements of the depth (anteroposterior (AP) and width (transverse diameters) of the pelvis between the 2 positions.

Results: The most striking finding was a significant 0.9-1.9 cm increase (7-15%) in the average transverse diameters in the kneeling squat position in both pregnant and nonpregnant groups. The average bispinous diameter in the pregnant group increased from 12.6 cm ± 0.65 cm in the supine dorsal to 14.5 cm ± 0.64 cm (P < .0001) in the kneeling squat; in the nonpregnant group the increase was from 12 cm ± 0.76 cm to 13.9 cm ± 1.04 cm (P < .0001). The average bituberous diameter in the pregnant group increased from 13.6 cm ± 0.93 cm in the supine dorsal to 14.5 cm ± 0.83 cm (P < .0001) in the kneeling squat position; in the nonpregnant women the increase was from 12.6 cm ± 0.92 cm to 13.5 cm ± 0.88 cm (P < .0001).

Conclusion: A kneeling squat position significantly increases the bony transverse and anteroposterior dimension in the mid pelvic plane and the pelvic outlet. Because this indicates that pelvic diameters change when women change positions, the potential for facilitation of delivery of the fetal head suggests further research that will compare maternal delivery positions is warranted.

Keywords: birth; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); maternal position; pelvimetry; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Patient Positioning / methods*
  • Pelvic Bones / anatomy & histology*
  • Pelvimetry
  • Pelvis / anatomy & histology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Supine Position / physiology
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Young Adult