Welcoming new life into the world is a magnificent dance of strength and vulnerability that unites the mind, body, and soul. For those with larger bodies, the path to childbirth is a unique experience that deserves compassion, understanding, and tailored support. Today, we’re diving into labor positions and adaptations that can make a big difference for those birthing in larger bodies. We’ll explore how to adapt common equipment, discover options for labor positions, and highlight the indispensable role of doulas in providing physical and emotional support during labor.

Embracing Comfort and Empowerment During Labor

As we embark on this exploration, it’s crucial to recognize that while childbirth is a universal experience, it is also deeply personal. The equipment and tools designed for labor however, often come in standard sizes, which can present challenges for plus size birthers. The good news is the path to a more inclusive and comfortable birthing experience is paved with adaptability and creativity.


Adapting Equipment for Comfort and Inclusivity

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1. Birthing Ball Bliss:

A birthing ball, also known as an exercise ball, can be a wonderful companion during labor. To ensure utmost comfort, opt for a ball with a higher weight capacity. This ensures stability and security, allowing you to sway, bounce, and change positions with confidence.

Embrace the gentle rhythm of the ball as you find your flow and ease the weight of the world from your shoulders. We like the Trideer Extra Thick Yoga Ball because it is anti-burst, weight tested up to 330lbs, and comes in various sizes based on height. We also like the CanDo® ABS Extra Thick Yoga Ball because it’s anti-burst, weight tested up to 450lbs, and comes in various sizes based on height.

2. Supportive Seating:

The traditional hospital bed might not be the best fit for everyone. Consider using extra pillows or wedges to create a cozy and supportive seating arrangement that accommodates your body’s needs. This can facilitate relaxation, encourage optimal baby positioning, and enhance your ability to move freely.

Standard labor beds have a weight capacity of 450lbs and beds made for larger folks have a capacity of 750lbs. Brands like Hillrom’s standard labor bed has a 500lb weight capacity for the bed itself and then a 400lb weight capacity for the foot section.

This is fairly common for most hospitals, ask your provider to confirm where you will be delivering. If you are at home, then likely you will have an idea of the comfort and capacity of your own furniture.

3. Customized Comfort with a Doula:

A doula can be your advocate, your guide, and your unwavering support system. They’re not only equipped with a wealth of knowledge about labor positions, but they also possess the creativity and adaptability needed to ensure your comfort. From propping you up with pillows to suggesting alternative positions, doulas are skilled at customizing your birthing environment to align with your unique body. Check out our blog on questions to use when interviewing a doula about their experience with plus size birthers.

Discovering Optimal Labor Positions

Labor for all sizes of folks can be an intricate puzzle, one where you instinctively know where the next piece goes (your body dictates the next position) or you may have to look for the next best option from a different angle. Finding the right positions in labor can make a profound difference in comfort, progress, and the overall birthing experience. Let’s explore a few positions that can be go to’s for folks in larger bodies.

1. Side-Lying Serenity: This position is a gentle yet powerful choice for birthing in a larger body. Lie on your side, with your upper leg supported by pillows to maintain a comfortable angle. This relieves pressure on your back and pelvis, allowing you to rest while your body navigates the path to birth.

2. Upright and Unstoppable: Many fat birthing individuals find comfort in upright positions, such as standing, leaning, or squatting. These positions take advantage of gravity, helping your baby move through the birth canal more efficiently. Leaning on a partner, a wall, or a sturdy piece of furniture can provide stability and support as you find strength in your body’s abilities.

3. Elevated Empowerment: Adjusting the birthing bed to a more comfortable height, often a bit more elevated, enables you to maintain an upright posture while benefiting from the support of the bed. This position allows your body to open up and create more space for your baby’s journey.

4. Swaying with Grace: the hands and knees position: allows you to kneel on a bed or sturdy surface, your hands resting firmly on the ground, forming a solid foundation. This posture embraces the sturdiness of the ground or furniture under you, with the ability to rest in child pose on a birthing ball or over a heap of pillows. Folks can use the all fours time when going through a contraction and then soften into the ball or pillow to rest in between contractions.

The Vital Role of a Doula

A doula can be an advocate, a confidante, and a pillar of strength. They bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise that extends far beyond simple labor positions.

1. Customized Support: Doulas understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to labor. They take the time to get to know you, your preferences, and your unique body. With this insight, they can recommend and adapt positions that will maximize your comfort and progress.

2. Physical and Emotional Support: In addition to suggesting labor positions, doulas provide hands-on physical support. From guiding you into various positions to offering massage and counter-pressure, their presence is a soothing balm for your body and soul. Their words of encouragement and reassurance create a nurturing environment that allows you to focus on your inner strength.

3. Advocacy and Empowerment: Doulas can be fierce advocates for your choices and desires. They can work to ensure that your voice is heard, your needs are met, and your preferences are respected. 

Birth is a celebration of the incredible strength and resilience that resides within you. By adapting equipment, discovering optimal labor positions, and enlisting the support of a doula, you are crafting a birthing experience that is as unique as your journey.

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