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Best Positions For Labour

Traditional Methods of Birthing

In many cultures throughout the world, women have traditionally given birth in upright positions, such as kneeling, standing. squatting and sitting. This way of delivering a baby also reduces the risk of performing invasive procedures such as an episiotomy.

In Western society, the influence of doctors has encouraged women to give birth on their backs, which leads to a higher risk of having an assisted delivery. Many women now believe this is the norm.

In the U.K., however, doctors and midwives have increasingly embraced the concept of upright births, even if the expectant mother is considered high-risk and in need of constant monitoring.

Positions in Labour

One of the many ways you can use a birth ball during labour.

One of the many ways you can use a birth ball during labour.

Standing Up

This is the ideal position for labour and delivery, as the force of gravity naturally helps the baby to move down the pelvis.

If you are overdue and trying to bring on contractions, you could also walk up and down your stairs often or go for a long brisk walk as long as someone is with you.

The natural way to deliver your baby would be upright, as the head presses on the cervix, stimulating the hormones which bring on contractions. This then helps the cervix to dilate and stretch so that the baby can pass through.


Sitting is good as long as you are not slouched back on a sofa.

The best position to be in is seated back-to-front on a chair so that the backrest is in front of you. With your knees apart in such a position, your pelvis will widen and allow descent of the baby's head. If the head is low enough down and pressing on the cervix, this may bring on labour.

Using a birth ball

Birth balls have become popular in recent years and are quite affordable. If you are seated on the birth ball as you read a book or watch television, then this also helps to widen the pelvis. Bouncing on it while seated can help speed up labour as well.


Squatting is great when you are in the second stage of labour (the pushing stage) as your legs are automatically widened to allow the baby to descend further, and you also have your feet firmly on the floor to give some traction.

If you are in the first stage of labour, then squatting is good, but you need to be reasonably fit for this position!

Your birthing partner could assist you by sitting on a chair behind you while you squat facing outwards in between their legs so that your arms are resting on their knees.

The toilet is an obvious and convenient place to squat, as well.

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Many women like to stand up during labour, as it takes some pressure off of their backs, and having the freedom to walk around is beneficial to help the baby's head come down onto the cervix and help it to dilate.

Some women may go for a walk up and down stairs to help open up the pelvis.

Rocking side-to-side while standing, leaning over a table, wall, or other surface may all help with labour progression, too.

Best Positions for Labour and Birth

Birthing Stool

A birthing stool looks like an oversized potty without a front and usually has some kind of handle on it so that you can push down in the second stage of labour and have something to grip.

Bean Bags and Yoga Mats

Beanbags are great to relax on, and you could get yourself into a squatting position for the delivery supported by your partner and the beanbag.

Beanbags are often used in conjunction with yoga mats if you intend to deliver on the floor; together, your knees are cushioned if you end up on all fours!

Some hospital beds can convert into chair positions where you end up in a squatting position or sitting.

Some hospital beds can convert into chair positions where you end up in a squatting position or sitting.

An Active Labour and Birth

Over the past 15 years, attitudes toward labour and delivery have changed dramatically, and within hospital settings, healthcare professionals are encouraging more active birthing.

If a woman was to lay back on the bed for the whole of her labour, then the forces of gravity would be travelling in a horizontal direction rather than vertically, and so it is better to stay active during labour once established.

If you have a hospital delivery and have received strong anti-pain medication, some delivery beds can convert into a chair position so that you can move into a sitting or squatting position. That way, you are not limited to lying on your back.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Please Leave your comments.

Onlinemidwife (author) from Manchester UK on March 20, 2013:

Good Luck! hope you find this useful, just remember to keep upright and let gravity take its course, many women find it better this way then laying flat on the bed, it should speed things up for you x

dearmommy on March 19, 2013:

I will have to remember some of these come October. :)

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