See the original article here: this NY Times article
Having a Baby: Activity May Decrease Length of Labor
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Published: April 20, 2009
Lying down during the first stage of labor may slow the process, a new review of studies has found, but if the expectant mother sits, stands or walks around she may safely bring matters to a quicker conclusion.
The analysis, published April 14 in The Cochrane Collaboration, combined data from 21 studies with a total of 3,706 women. The analysis, published April 14 in The Cochrane Collaboration, combined data from 21 studies with a total of 3,706 women.
Women who lay down — lying flat, in a semireclined position or on their sides — were no more likely than those who sat upright or stood to have unexpected needs like a Caesarean section. And there was no discernible difference between the groups in maternal satisfaction or the amount of fetal distress.
But over all, those who sat up, stood or walked spent an average of one hour less in the first stage of labor (strong, regular contractions with 3 to 10 centimeters’ dilation of the cervix) than those who did not, and they were slightly less likely to require epidural anesthesia.
Annemarie Lawrence, the lead author and a midwife at the Townsville Hospital in Queensland, Australia, suggested that gravity helps.
“The baby’s head pushing down on the cervix improves the regularity and intensity of contractions,” she said.
“Women should be allowed to move around freely. What this study shows is that lying down isn’t safer in the first stage of labor.”