Best Positions for Labour

Traditional Methods of Birthing

In traditional cultures women have been giving birth naturally in upright positions, such as kneeling, standing. squatting and sitting. Giving birth upright also reduces the risk of performing invasive procedures such as an episiotomy.

In western society, the influence of doctors have encouraged women to give birth on their backs which gives a higher risk of having an assisted delivery, and that is why women who now have hospital births think this is the norm. In the UK Doctors and midwives attitudes have changed to allow a more active labour, even if a woman is put as high risk and needing constant monitoring, there is no reason why upright positions at delivery can't be adopted.

Positions in Labour

One of the many ways you can use a Birth Ball in Labour
One of the many ways you can use a Birth Ball in Labour | Source

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 you could also walk up and down your stairs often or go for a long brisk walk as long as someone is with you to help bring on any contractions.

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 sat back to front on a chair so the backrest is in front of you. The action of your knees having to be apart will help widen the pelvis and allow descent of the 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 increasingly popular over the years and are very cheap to buy for your home, just a normal gym ball will help. If your sat on the birthing ball watching TV then this also helps to widen the pelvis and bouncing on it whilst your sat there can help speed up labour.


Squatting is great when you are in second stage of Labour - the pushing stage as your legs are automatically widened to allow 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 whilst you squat face outwards in between their legs so that your arms are resting on their knees.

The Toilet is the obvious place to squat it's a great position to be in being careful you don't push your baby out into the loo!


A lot of women like to stand up in Labour as it takes some pressure off their backs, and having the freedom to walk around is beneficial to help the head come down onto the cervix and help it to dilate. Some go for a walk up and down stairs to help open up the pelvis. Also rocking side to side whilst standing, leaning over a table or surface or a wall all help with labour progression.

Best Positions for Labour and Birth

Birthing Stool

Birthing stool looks like an over sized potty without a front on it 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 on to.

Bean Bags and Yoga Mats

Beanbags are great to relax onto 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 and cushions your knees 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. | Source

An active Labour and birth

Over the past 15 years attitudes to birthing normally have changed dramatically and within hospital settings 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 in your labour once established and also for the second stage of labour.

If you have a hospital delivery and have strong analgesia on board such as an Epidural, some delivery beds can convert into a chair position so that you can move into a sitting or squatting position so your not restricted into laying down.

Please Leave your comments. 2 comments

dearmommy profile image

dearmommy 3 years ago

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

Onlinemidwife profile image

Onlinemidwife 3 years ago from Manchester UK Author

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

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