9 Good Positions for Labor

The positions that you choose for labor and birth are important. They will help you be more comfortable during the labor process. Some positions will also help speed up the process of labor. Many of these positions can be done with or without the help of your partner, husband, doula, or nurse. Practicing them prior to labor will also make them seem familiar and more comfortable and natural.


Moms Share What Labor Was Actually Like for Them



Walking in labor is a great way to help not only speed up labor but make you more comfortable. It is also a great way to spend early labor. Some women will choose to walk through their neighborhoods, or even the mall on colder days.

No matter where you choose to walk, even if it's simply the halls of the hospital, walking can help your pelvis move about more freely and help gravity assist your baby in moving down into your pelvis.

During the later stages of labor, you may not feel like walking during contractions. That is perfectly okay. Simply stop and assume a different position or use a standing position for the contractions. You can begin walking again as soon as you are able to do so.



Laboring Woman on Ball
Photo © Lane Oatey / Blue Jean Images/Getty Images

Sitting can be a nice position for labor. It allows you to be fully upright and allows gravity to assist you in laboring. It also can help promote relaxation, by allowing you to rest.

You can use any type of chair, from a kitchen chair to a rocking chair. Many hospitals and birth centers have chairs available for you to use in each labor and birth room. You can also sit on a ball. You can also sit in a bed, or in a birth tub. If you only have access to a shower, consider sitting on a shower chair in the shower.


Sitting in a Chair Backwards

The benefits of sitting in a chair are also available if you sit backward. The added benefit is that you can lean forward. This can help take some pressure off of your back.

It also makes your back available for your husband, doula, or nurse to rub or massage. This is particularly helpful if you are experiencing back labor or if your baby is in occiput posterior (OP) position or when the baby is facing your abdomen.


Tailor Sitting

A laboring woman tailor sitting with her partner
Photo © Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Tailor sitting, or sitting with your knees bent and ankles crossed, is a relaxing variation of sitting. It can be done in bed or on the floor, depending on where you are most comfortable. Again, this is an upright position for labor and allows gravity to help. It is also very relaxing and provides a nice stretch of the inner thigh and back.



Mom semi-sitting in labor with an epidural
Photo © Design Pics/Getty Images

Semi-sitting or semi-reclining is usually done in a bed. It can be used in conjunction with epidural anesthesia or other medications, such as IV medications.

This position does not have all the benefits of upright positioning and should not be used for long periods of time. However, it is better than lying flat on your back. It can be used to promote relaxation and has been shown to reduce labor pain.


Side Lying

A woman in labor in a side lying position
Photo © Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

The side-lying position is a gravity neutral position, meaning that there are no benefits of gravity in this position. This is a great position for slowing down your labor or birth. It can also be used for taking pressure off the perineum during birth, lowering the risk of perineal trauma.

Many hospitals will use this position in conjunction with epidural anesthesia or other medications. It can also be used to alter positions from semi-sitting. It may be used for laboring women with blood pressure issues or if your baby is showing signs of fetal distress.



Squatting in Labor
Photo © Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Squatting is a great way to increase the diameter of your pelvic outlet. This position should not be used until your baby is engaged in your pelvis. This is also known as zero station or lower (positive numbers). Once engaged, this is a great position to help encourage the descent of your baby further into your pelvis.

The squatting position is effective in shortening the second stage of labor, which is why it is jokingly called the midwives' forceps.

The squatting position also helps protect your perineum, making it less likely that you would tear or require the use of an episiotomy during your birth. However, compared to other positions, multiple studies have found squatting during the second stage of delivery to be correlated with increased blood loss.


Hands and Knees

Woman Laboring on all fours in bed
Photo © Photodisc/Getty Images

Hands and knees is also a gravity neutral position. It is a great position to help get a break from the intensity of contractions. It also works well for turning a posterior baby. It is also a helpful position if you have a cervical lip.

If your baby is in a posterior position or you are experiencing back labor, this position can reduce discomfort. It allows your doula or partner to massage your back or apply counter pressure to help you be more comfortable.


Leaning Forward

Leaning forward in a labor tub during labor
Photo © Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Leaning forward can help take the pressure off of your back in labor. You can stand and lean forward over a ball or stack of pillows. You can be on your knees and lean over something or someone. Or you can hang over the side of a labor tub if you have access to a tub while in labor. This often feels like a really relaxing position in labor, particularly between contractions.

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