Best Positions for Labour

Best Positions for Labour

July 2014

Over the last few years, experts have advised that the traditional position (the one you see in all the movies!) of lying flat on your back during labour is not necessarily the best way to give birth. Many people now feel that staying active and using gravity to help you by keeping upright (kneeling or standing), as well as trying to stay calm and let your contractions help you, can really help.

In the early stages of labour, when the contractions are fairly weak, the best advice is to keep ‘active’.  Have a slow walk, potter about your house or garden, and generally keep moving around.  Standing helps to relieve the pressure on your spine and therefore can help alleviate any back pain you may be experiencing.

As your contractions get stronger, walking will be the last thing on your mind, but you will naturally try to find positions and movements that are most comfortable for you.  It’s a good idea to talk this through with your midwife and/or birthing partner before the labour, so you have some ideas of what might work for you, and then let them guide and help you.

Everyone is different, but here are some ideas to consider: 

  • Standing helps. Particularly in early labour - lean on something to support your weight and shift your weight from foot to foot or rock your hips back and forth.  
  • Sit down when you get tired. It is better to sit than lie down when you get tired as it keeps your upright. You can always lean forward onto something like a table or the back of a chair if you feel like you need to rest your head.
  • Rock and roll. A birthing ball is a great tool to use as you can lean on it and then rotate/rock it through your contractions.
  • Kneeling helps to cope with contractions.  An ‘all-fours’ position can really help through the later, most powerful contractions.  Leaning forward on the cushion of a chair or your birthing partner can really help too. 
  • Squatting can speed your labour along. This is a very natural position for women when they are in labour. However, your legs can get tired so get your midwife or birthing partner to support you by holding under your arms.

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Ultimately, only you know what is right for you, so get your birthing partner and midwife to help you to feel as comfortable as you can be!