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INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study is to conduct an overview of Cochrane systematic reviews (SRs) evaluating the effects of maternal positions in childbirth in order to compile existing evidence for relevant research questions that have been addressed by more than one review, to provide a succinct summary of the up-to-date evidence and to identify areas for future research. METHODS An electronic search was conducted in the Cochrane database. Two primary outcomes were the duration of labor and birth, and operative birth. The quality of included reviews was assessed using the AMSTAR criteria, and the quality of the evidence was rated using the GRADE criteria. RESULTS We included 3 Cochrane SRs. There was a significant mean difference (MD) found in the duration of the first stage by 1 hour and 22 minutes (MD= −1.21; 95% CI: −2.35 – −0.07, I2=94%) and reduction in caesarean section rates (RR=0.71; 95% CI: 0.54–0.94, I2=0%) in the upright birth position group compared with the horizontal. Also, there was a statistically significant difference in the duration (minutes) of the second stage of labor (MD= −6.16; 95% CI: −9.74 – −2.59, I2=91%) and a reduction in assisted vaginal birth rates (RR=0.75, 95% CI: 0.66–0.86, I2=29%) in the upright group compared with the horizontal without epidural analgesia. The quality of evidence within the reviews was very low to moderate. CONCLUSIONS There is currently a limited body of evidence to clearly assess the benefits and risks of assuming upright positions during childbirth. The overview highlights the need for high-quality research studies, involving better definition and comprehensive assessment of the effects of squatting during childbirth.

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Journal article


European Journal of Midwifery

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