Standing up and walking around during labour can shorten childbirth by an hour, according to research.
In an analysis of 3,706 women, researchers found mothers who stood up, walked around or sat upright in the first stage of childbirth had a faster labour than those who lay down.
Researchers reviewed 21 studies that randomly assigned women to upright or recumbent positions in the first stage of labour.
The findings, published by the Cochrane Library, also found that women who adopted upright positions were less likely to need an epidural than those who lay down.
It is more common for women in the developed world to lie down on beds during labour.
The authors say that lying down may weaken the strength of contractions, which could slow the descent of the baby through the birth canal.
However, they add that lying down during the first stage of labour can make it easier for staff to check the baby.
Midwife Annemarie Lawrence, who led the research, said:’This review demonstrates that there is some benefit and no risk to being upright and or mobile during first stage labour.
‘We recommend that women are encouraged to use whatever position they find most comfortable in the first stage of labour but are specifically advised to avoid lying flat.’