Positions for labor and birth

standing position

Standing

Standing takes advantage of gravity during and between contractions.

It makes contractions feel less painful and be more productive.

It helps your baby line up with the angle of your pelvis.

Standing may increase your urge to push in the second stage of labor.

Walking

Walking has the same advantages as standing.

The movement causes changes in the pelvic joints, helping your baby move through the birth canal.

standing leaning position

Standing and leaning forward on partner, bed, birthing ball

This position has the same advantages as standing.

It is a good position for a backrub.

It may feel more restful than standing.

slow dancing position

Slow dancing

Stand with your arms around your partner's neck or at your side, head resting on his or her chest or shoulder, with his or her hands rubbing your lower back.

Sway to music and breathe in rhythm if it helps.

It has the same advantages as walking.

Back pressure helps relieve back pain.

Rhythm and music help you relax and provide comfort.

lunge position

The lunge

Stand facing a straight chair.

Place one foot on the seat with your knee and foot to the side.

Bending raised knee and hip, lunge sideways repeatedly during a contraction, holding each lunge for five seconds.

Have your partner hold the chair and help with balance.

You'll feel a stretch in your inner thighs.

This position widens one side of the pelvis (the side toward which you lunge).

It encourages rotation of baby.

It can also be done in a kneeling position.

sitting upright position

Sitting upright

This position is good for resting.

It has more gravity advantage than lying down.

sitting on commode position

Sitting on toilet or commode

This position has the same advantages as sitting upright.

It may help relax the perineum for effective bearing down.

semi sitting position

Semi-sitting

Set the head of the bed at a 45-degree angle with pillows used for support.

It has the same advantages as sitting upright.

This is an easy position if you're on a bed.

Rocking in a chair

This position has the same advantages as sitting upright.

Rhythmic rocking movements can be relaxing.

sitting leaning forward position

Sitting, leaning forward with support

This position has the same advantages as sitting upright.

It is a good position for back rubs.

kneeling position

Kneeling on all fours

This position:

  • helps relieve backache
  • assists rotation of baby in posterior position
  • allows for pelvic rocking and body movement
  • takes pressure off hemorrhoids
  • is sometimes preferred as a pushing position by women with back labor
kneeling leaning support

Kneeling, leaning forward with support on a chair seat, the raised head of the bed, or on a birthing ball

kneeling leaning ball

This position:

  • has the same advantages as all fours position
  • puts less strain on the wrists and hands
side lying position

Side lying

  • This position:
  • is very good for resting
  • is convenient for many kinds of medical interventions
  • helps lower elevated blood pressure
  • is useful to slow a very rapid second stage
  • takes pressure off hemorrhoids
  • facilitates relaxation between contractions
supported squat position

Squatting and supported squat

squatting position

  • This position:
  • may relieve backache
  • takes advantage of gravity
  • requires less bearing down effort
  • widens pelvic outlet
  • may help baby turn and move down in a difficult birth
  • helps if you do not feel an urge to push
  • allows freedom to shift weight for comfort
  • offers an advantage when pushing, since upper trunk presses on the top of the uterus

Squatting can also be done in front of a chair, using your partner's legs for support.

Dangle

  • Your partner sits on high bed or counter with feet supported on chairs or footrests and thighs spread.
  • You lean back between your partner's legs, placing your flexed arms over your partner's thighs.
  • Your partner grips your sides with his or her thighs.
  • You lower yourself, allowing your partner to support your full weight.
  • Between contractions, stand up.
  • This has the same advantages of a supported squat but requires less physical strength from your partner.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/02/2015