9 Positions for Labor

1
Walking

Pregnant mom walking in labor at the hospital
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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 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.

Walking in labor is a great way to help not only speed 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.

2
Sitting

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

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

3
Sitting in a Chair Backwards

The benefits of sitting in a chair are also available if you sit backwards. 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 occiput posterior (OP) or face up.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

4
Tailor Sitting

A laboring woman tailor sitting with her partner
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Tailor sitting 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.

5
Semi-Sitting

Mom semi-sitting in labor with an epidural
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Semi-sitting is usually used 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 or in early labor before the contractions require much of your attention.

6
Side Lying

A woman in labor in a side lying position
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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 of the perineum during birth.

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.

7
Squatting

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. It is also a great position in which to give birth.

The squatting position helps protect your perineum making it less likely that you would tear or require the use of an episiotomy during your birth. It is joking called the midwives' forceps because of its ability to speed the pushing phase of labor.

8
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.

If your baby is posterior or you are experiencing back labor, this position can be comforting. It allows your doula or husband to massage your back or apply counter pressure to help you be more comfortable. You can also use this position to give birth.

Source
The Labor Progress Handbook. Simkin, P and Ancheta, R. Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition.

9
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 one. 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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