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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1989 Nov;96(11):1290-6.

Alternative positions in the second stage of labour: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Milton Keynes General Hospital, Bucks.


A controlled clinical trial involving 151 primigravidae and 18 midwives assessed the acceptability and outcome of second-stage labour in upright positions. Women who had no specific antenatal preparation and preferences regarding labour positions were managed either conventionally (semi-recumbent and lateral), or encouraged to adopt upright positions (squatting, kneeling, sitting or standing) according to individual preference. Of the women allocated to the upright position 74% completed the second stage upright, with kneeling being the most favoured position, but squatting was, despite all assistance, too difficult to maintain. Adoption of upright positions resulted in a higher rate of intact perineums. There was a clinically apparent reduction of forceps deliveries in the upright group which influenced midwives' attitudes. Moving the parturient from recumbent to upright positions was often perceived to be beneficial when there was slow progress. Estimated blood loss was similar in the two groups, as was the condition of the newborn (Apgar score and umbilical artery pH). Alternative positions in the second stage of labour, in particular kneeling, are achievable even without specific birth aids and antenatal preparation. They appear safe, acceptable to most parturients and their midwives, and are easily integrated into modern labour ward practice; they may have clinical advantages which need further investigation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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