Benefits and Advantages of Squatting for Birth

This centuries-old birthing position may be right for you.

Birth doula helping mom with squat bar
Sara Corman Photography

For a long time we have ignored the one of the most effective positions for giving birth: squatting.

The advantages of squatting have long been known. In modern medicine,  however squatting has been ignored in favor of positions that were more advantageous from the practitioner's point of view. Prone and semi-prone positions make it easier to use instruments such as forceps, stirrups and vacuum extractors or medications such as epidural anesthesia.

Benefits of Squatting

Under the right circumstances, squatting can have many benefits for the laboring mother:

Preparing for Squatting in Pregnancy

The benefits listed above are the result of the fact that squatting tilts the uterus and pelvis forward, placing the baby in proper alignment for birth. It also encourages and strengthens the intensity of contractions, while relieving back pressure. It may also reduce the need for episiotomy, as it actually helps relax and stretch the pelvic floor muscle.

Squatting should be practiced during pregnancy to help strengthen your legs for squatting during birth. You can start with the help of your partner or with the use of a birth ball (physical therapy ball).

Go slowly, and be sure to place your feet all the way on the floor as you are learning. It will become easier and easier.

Once in labor you can squat during labor or reserve that for the birth. There are many ways to squat on beds. You may want to lean on your partner, or make use of hospital or birth center squat bars or stools.

As a last resort, you can use a small step stool or a stack of phone books.

Remember to talk to your midwife or doctor about your desire to try squatting in labor. They may have several tricks to make this work very well for you. Or if they are not familiar with squatting, it gives them a chance to learn more about the process to help serve you better. Ask them how they would prepare if they were going to give you advice for pregnancy. A doula can also be helpful to helping you figure out which positions would work well.

When You Should Not Squat

No birthing technique is perfect for everyone. Squatting is generally a better position for later in labor. Sometimes the baby's position is not optimal for using a squat. Squatting would be unsafe with an epidural, though you may be successful using a peanut ball to help you try a modified squat from a seated position.

Labor and birth are a process of movement. Do everything you can to encourage your labor and birth naturally. Squatting is merely one of your options.


Gupta JK, Hofmeyr GJ, Shehmar M. Position in the second stage of labour for women without epidural anaesthesia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 May 16;5:CD002006. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002006.pub3.

Lawrence A, Lewis L, Hofmeyr GJ, Styles C. Maternal positions and mobility during first stage labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Oct 9;10:CD003934. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003934.pub4.

Nasir A, Korejo R, Noorani KJ. Child birth in squatting position. J Pak Med Assoc. 2007 Jan;57(1):19-22.

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