Malawi women's knowledge and use of labour and birthing positions: A cross-sectional descriptive survey

Barbara Zileni, Pauline Glover, Meril Jones, Kung-Keat Teoh, Chisomo Zileni, Amanda Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Problem Despite research evidence supporting use of upright birthing positions, most women give birth in supine position. Little is known about women's knowledge and use of labour and birthing positions. Specifically, there is a lack of evidence on Malawi women's knowledge and use of birthing positions, and this limits the possibility of improvement in childbirth practices. 

Aim To assess women's knowledge and use of different positions during labour and birthing. Methods The study used a cross-sectional descriptive survey in a Malawi maternity unit where 373 low-risk postnatal women participated in face-to-face exit interviews, using a structured questionnaire. A descriptive analysis of the categorical variables was conducted to examine frequencies and percentages. 

Findings The majority of women knew about walking (66.4%) and lateral (60.6%) as labour positions, whereas 99.2% knew about the supine as a birthing position. Half of the women (50%) walked during labour and the majority (91.4%) gave birth whilst in supine position. Midwives were the main source of information on positions used during childbirth. 

Discussion Education about different birthing positions is needed for women who deliver at the maternity unit so that they can make informed decisions on their own options for childbirth. However, midwives must have the competence to encourage and assist women give birth in different positions, so professional development of midwives in childbirth positions is a priority. 

Conclusion Childbirth education should include information on the various labour and birthing positions. Midwives should be equipped with appropriate skills to help women use different positions during childbirth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e8
Number of pages8
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Childbirth
  • Labour stage, first
  • Labour stage, second
  • Supine position
  • Upright position


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