What it is:
The mother will rest on one side, with her body in the position she tends to sleep in.
How it works:
Side lying allows the mother to deeply relax the muscles of her body. It will also allow her to rest without putting undue pressure on her kidneys or her inferior vena cava (which returns blood to the heart). Side lying puts the weight of the uterus on the bed or floor, and allow the uterus to come forward during contractions easily.
When to do it:
Side lying is very useful when the mother is having a difficult time relaxing. If she is overly fearful or tense, it can help her overcome the pain by promoting deep muscle relaxation.
Many women reach a point during labor when they feel very tired and exhausted, and desire to rest. At this time, side lying is very appropriate. During early labor, side lying may not be necessary. If the mother has energy and is able, other positions that encourage labor to progress may be more appropriate.
Incorporating it into labor:
Help the mother into her bed. Arrange pillows to support her arms, legs and head in the most comfortable position for her.
If the mother prefers to be in water, she can relax on her side using a towel or bath pillow to support her head on the side of the pool or tub.
If the mother will be moving to a hospital or birth center during labor, she may be most comfortable if she uses side lying in the back seat of the vehicle.