Labor Positions With a Partner

A partner is someone to help you. This can be your husband, your doula, a friend or a combination. Having someone physically near you is comforting in labor. It also doesn't hurt to let someone else remember which position works well with what situation.


Slow Dancing in Labor

Man hugging pregnant woman in hospital gown

Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Slow dancing is a great position for labor. It can be used in any stage of labor from early labor all the way up through transition and pushing. Slow dancing has the added benefit of using gravity. Gravity will help your baby descend into the birth canal, which can speed your labor. Being able to dance or sway with music or without can also aid in relaxation.

Your partner can rub your back while in this position. Or they can simply hold you up. You could also have someone else, like your doula, rub your back while you focus on your husband.


Squatting With a Partner in Labor

Squatting is a great position for later in labor. It should only be used once your baby has engaged in your pelvis. (When in doubt ask your nurse, midwife or doctor.)

Using a partner to squat can add stability, particularly if you're feeling shaky, which is common later in labor. This position also works well if you're not used to squatting. I like that it also allows you to feel really close to your partner and that you can face them or face outwards.

Squatting can really open up the pelvic outlet to let your baby come down. The first thing you need to do is to make sure that labor is not the first time that you have attempted to squat. Certainly, practice prior to labor is very helpful.

While it's always best if you can squat with your feet flat on the floor, do not panic if you can't do that. But do support the feet by placing something under her heel.


Squatting/Leaning With a Partner in Labor

Combining the squatting with a partner with a leaning position is also a great position to try in labor. This way your partner or your doula has access to your back, while someone else can do relaxation or simple encouragement in your ear. This is also great if your legs are tired.

You can also try leaning over a ball. Use the ball on the bed or, if on the floor, just have mom kneel on something softer, like towels or blankets to protect her knees. If you didn't have a ball, you could also use a stack of linens or pillows to support her upper body.

Even just having someone sit next to you while you labor in a position can be comforting. This is a great way to allow both parties to rest, while still being actively engaged in labor.


The Dangle Position With Partner in Labor

This position is one to try in labor, but it is best if you practice before labor. This position uses gravity to help your baby be born and speed labor. It also provides a break for your legs and a nice stretch of your back. I'd recommend that you use this position only during contractions and rest in between the contractions or you will wear your partner out!

This works really well for pushing. It gives the mother the ability to use gravity by being very upright, but she's well supported by someone else. This is one that takes some upper body strength, so not just anyone can help with this position. It even works well if the partner is sitting in a chair and mom is squatting between their legs.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.