Positions for Labor

Lying down on the back is the most common labor position. But there are a number of other positions for labor that can ease the birthing process which pregnant women must be aware of.

Last Updated: 22 October 2020

Positions for Labor
Positions for Labor

If you visualize your labor and delivery on a hospital bed, lying on your back with your legs spread apart, now it is time to change your visualization. Yes, labor need not bind you to a bed. Depending upon the stage of your labor, you can try different positions for labor with the support of your birthing partner, a doula, midwife or a hospital nurse.

And here is why you must actually try different labor positions instead of screaming out of pain in one position:

·         Changing your position during early and active labor phases can ease your pain

·         Trying different positions can help you to divert your focus from the pain and discomforts

·         Shifting positions can help in positioning your baby’s head into the pelvis

·         You can try and get to your best position which gives you the maximum strength to push

·         With some labor positions, labor time can be shortened

·         When change in position eases your pain, you wouldn’t need an epidural or pain medications

·         The chances for a C-section can be reduced

When is the best time to try the labor positions?

Every woman’s body responds differently to different labor positions. Until you reach the specific stage in labor, you may not be sure which one will work for you the best. In your antenatal classes, you will learn about the different birthing positions and it is a good idea to practice them a few times as you prepare for your labor.

When labor contractions begin, try sitting upright instead of lying down unless you feel like taking a nap. As contractions get stronger, concentrate on how your body is undergoing changes internally and you may then begin to try the labor positions you have learnt.

Again, when you reach the pushing stage of labor, you may want to change your position to check which makes you open up the best, allowing you to push the baby down with ease.

What are the best positions for labor?

Lying on the back, though is seen as the common labor position is not the best position for labor unless you are medically advised to rest on your back. It can add pressure to your arteries which carry blood to the placenta and also can lengthen your labor time.

Here are the best positions for labor you should try:

Sitting Upright

Remember, the goal of labor is to bring your baby’s head closer and closer to your cervix so that cervical effacement and dilation happen in less time. One sure position that can do this job effectively is sitting upright on a chair or toilet with legs apart. A straight spine can help your baby move down faster and open the cervix.

Leaning forward

Lean forward on to a wall or a desk with your legs wide can offer you the support and stability to manage your contractions. Slowly rocking sideways in this position can provide an effective pain relief management.


Squatting may seem a hard position for a pregnant woman in her full-term. But squatting is one of the best positions for labor which can open up your pelvis and make room for your baby’s head to dig down. Gently squat holding the back of a chair, your partner’s hands or heavy furniture which wouldn’t topple over with your weight. If it gets tiring or too painful, take support to come to an upright position or a resting position.

Lying on the side

When you are tired to try positions which require effort, simply lie down on your side with pillows between your legs. It can give you the needed relaxation during labor.

Birthing ball positions

A birthing ball can be a great life-saver to a woman in labor. While a birthing ball can be used in several ways to alleviate labor pain, the most common is sitting upright on the ball with feet apart. This position soothes the lower back as the body weight is taken off the legs. Some women also prefer to gently rock over the ball while kneeling down.


Have a small stool placed near you. Place your foot on the stool without bending your knee. Slowly lean forward taking support from your partner. Lunging when the contractions are about to begin can greatly help to manage pain. Repeat it with the other leg and if you find doing it on one particular side is more helpful, stick to it.

Go on all fours


Gently go down on your palms and knees on a mat on the floor or on the bed. This is one of the best positions for labor for both you and your baby. This position can be soothing to your spine and also enhances the level of oxygen supply to the baby. 

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