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Positions for labor and birth

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 their chest or shoulder, with their 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 pregnant people 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 their 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 Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021