Discover the Best Birthing Positions for You and Baby

birth prep Aug 18, 2020

Best Birthing Positions

Do you know the best birthing positions for a comfortable delivery? Do you have a plan as to how you will spend your labor and delivery?

Maybe you will lie on your side. Or walk around. Maybe you will do a lot of squatting to push out your baby. Or maybe it'll be a combination of all the above.

There Is No Need To Take Labor Lying Down Anymore.

These days, expectant mamas are encouraged to have their own plan so that they feel empowered and comfortable. You can change birthing positions as often as you like, and deliver your baby in birth positions far different from the old traditional methods.

Previously, you would have been told to lie on your back. But no you will be encouraged to utilise the birthing positions that you feel most comfortable with.

Keep Moving!

Movement and positioning in labor is what will help you. You see, when you are moving it enhances comfort by stimulating the receptors in the brain that decrease pain perception. When your contractions become very strong, endorphins are released and pain perception decreases even more.

By moving, in response to your contractions, you can decrease pain and better facilitate labor.

Movement also helps the baby move through the pelvis, and some positions enlarge pelvic diameters.

During labor, you need support from a friend or doula. Before you go into labor, let them know the birthing positions you want so that they can help remind you when the time comes.

Arrange to have continuous support in labor from a professional labor assistant (a doula) or a close friend or family member who makes you feel safe and confident. Ask them to remind you to try different positions or activities in labor.

A good idea is to make a list of the positions that you like best and bring it with you. My Birth Prep program is about you practicing the best positions and movements before your labor begins, so you and your partner feel comfortable and confident using them.

What is labor?

Labor is the process of childbirth, starting with contractions of the uterus and ending with the delivery of the baby.


10 Signs of Labor

  1. Stronger, more frequent contractions
  2. Water breaks
  3. Baby drops
  4. Cervix dilates
  5. Cramps and increased back pain
  6. Weight gain stops
  7. Fatigue
  8. Vaginal discharge changes
  9. Loose-feeling joints
  10. Diarrhea

Am I going into labor? Should I call the doctor?

Throughout your prenatal appointments, you doctor should have advised you what to do if you think you're going into labor. You should also know your due date.

Labor contractions won't all be exactly spaced out. If you find that they are becoming pretty consistent, more painful and longer (30 to 70 seconds each), then you should be calling your doctor.

What if you are not sure? I would advise you that for peace of mind you call your health care professional and explain what's going on. Now is not the time to be feeling embarrassed or worry about calling outside of office hours.

Always call your doctor or midwife if:

You experience any bleeding or bright red discharge (not brown or pinkish).

Your water breaks - especially if the fluid looks green or brown.

You experience blurred or double vision, a severe headache or sudden swelling.

7 Best Labor Birthing Positions

1. Squatting during labor

You will likely use this squatting position only late in labor or during delivery itself. Like standing, squatting opens up the pelvis to give your baby more room to move on down.

  1. Encourages rapid descent.
  2. Uses gravity.
  3. May increase rotation of baby.
  4. Excellent for fetal circulation.
  5. May increase pelvis diameter by as much as 2 centimetres.
  6. Requires less bearing-down effort.
  7. Your thighs keep baby well aligned.
  8. Allows freedom to shift your weight for comfort.
  9. Allows excellent perineal access.
  1. Can be tiring.
  2. Sometimes hard for health care provider to hear fetal heart tones.
  3. May be hard for you to assist in birth if you wish to do so.
  4. Possible increased blood loss.

2. Standing or Walking.

Standing helps you work with gravity, allowing your pelvis to open and your baby to move down into your birth canal. Leaning against a wall or your partner for support during contractions is best.

Standing Supported Squat

  1. Allows you to be supported by your standing or sitting partner.
  2. Takes advantage of gravity.
  3. Realigns your pelvis to increase the opening.
  4. Movement causes changes in your pelvic joints, helping your baby through the birth canal.
  5. Makes contractions feel less painful and more productive.
  6. Helps your baby line up with the angle of your pelvis.
  7. Can increase your urge to push in the second stage of labor.
  1. Your partner needs to be strong.
  2. Can be tiring for both of you.
  3. Possible increased blood loss.

Walking during Labor

  1. Baby is well aligned in your pelvis.
  2. May speed labor.
  3. Reduces backache.
  4. Encourages descent.
  5. Uses gravity.
  6. Contractions are often less painful.
  1. Not recommended if you have high blood pressure
  2. Can only be used with continuous electronic fetal monitoring if telemetry unit is available

3. Rocking during Labor

Rocking, either on a chair or swaying back and forth, allows your pelvis to move and encourages the baby to descend.

4. Sitting as a Birthing Position

Did you know that sitting can ease the pain of contractions? And allow gravity to assist in bringing your baby down into the birth canal. Sitting also helps to open up your pelvis.

  1. Good for resting.
  2. Uses gravity.
  3. Can be used with continuous electronic fetal monitoring.

May not be possible if you have high blood pressure.

5. Leaning over or kneeling.

Leaning forward or over a stack of pillows on a bed can be helpful when you have back labor because it encourages the baby to move forward, taking the pressure off your back.

  1. Can help shift the baby if needed.
  2. Uses gravity.
  3. Birth ball can be used.
  4. Contractions are often less painful and more productive.
  5. Baby is well aligned in your pelvis.
  6. Relieves backache.
  7. Easier for your labor partner to help relieve your back pain.
  8. May be more restful than standing.
  9. Good for pelvic rocking.
  10. Less strain on your wrists and arms.
  1. Hard for health care provider to help with birth.

6. Hands and knees.

This position allows you to do pelvic tilts for comfort, while giving your partner great access to your back for massage and counter pressure.

7. Side-lying as a birthing position

Lying on your side is better than lying on your back because it doesn't compress the major veins in your body.

  1. Makes contractions more effective.
  2. Easier for you to relax between contractions.
  3. Can slow a birth that's moving too fast.
  4. Helps get oxygen to the baby.
  5. Good resting position.
  6. Helpful if you have elevated blood pressure.
  7. Works with epidural.
  8. Your labor partner can support your legs.
  9. Lowers chances of tearing.
  10. Good access to perineum.
  1. May be hard for health care provider to access fetal heart tones.
  2. No help from gravity.
  3. If no one can hold your legs, you must support them on your own.
  4. You may feel too passive in this position.


Best Labor Positions for a Comfortable Delivery

So what labour positions are most comfortable?

To answer this question, I want you to know that the most comfortable labor position is the position that you feel most comfortable in!

In saying that, here are some positions that may be extra helpful to you:

1. If you have an epidural:

When you have an epidural, you won't be able to walk around. There are still some labor positions will help such as; sitting or lying on your side, even when you're numb from the waist down.

2. If you have back labor

You can often relieve your pain that comes from back labor by leaning over, kneeling, or getting onto your hands and knees .

3. If you're being continuously monitored

You can rock, squat, lie or sit on your side during labor. Yes, even if you are being monitored for contractions and fetal heart rate.

4. When you're delivering your baby

Side-lying may be the easiest delivery position for your practitioner. But for you, it may be more comfortable for you to deliver while squatting or on hands and knees.

Are there any risks to any labor positions?

Lying on your back is not ideal but is OK if it suits you. You see lying on your back with a full-term baby inside your uterus can put pressure on important blood vessels, possibly compromising blood flow to the baby.

Do any labor positions make childbirth easier?

I find that upright positions such as standing, walking, squatting and sitting are ideal. Remember, this is about you finding the best birthing positions for you.

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