Positions for during labour

Being active by moving into different positions during labour and using gravity is going to help your cervix to open as well as helping your pelvis widen and open.

You will instinctively find positions that work for you during labour.

Lying on your back in bed during labour is not recommended as it can reduce oxygen to your baby and compress the major blood vessel leading to your heart. Lying in a semi-reclining position on your back can also reduce the opening to your pelvis.

Let's look at some alternative positions you can use during labour.

Pelvis rocking

Some recommended positions for the first stage of labour include sitting on a fit ball or standing while you gently rock your hips in a circular motion. This can help release any build-up of energy in your body and help you to keep your pelvis loose.

Slow dancing with your partner

Stand up facing your partner or birth companion and put your arms around their shoulders. Keep your knees soft and your pelvis loose and gently sway and rock as if you're slow dancing.

Sitting backwards over chair

Sit backwards on a chair with your arms draped over the top of the chair and your stomach supported with pillows. This position helps you to utilise gravity and can help you to open up your pelvis while taking pressure off your legs and allowing your body to relax.

On all fours on the floor

Get onto the floor on all fours either leaning over a fit ball, a bed or couch. This is a great position to move and release your hips while allowing you to relax in between contractions. Also have your partner or birth companion sit while you are on your knees and you lean on a pillow on their lap.

Side lying

In early labour if you want to rest then lying on your side and being been well supported with pillows can help you to relax in between contractions. This is also a good position if you are tired and need to rest your legs and it doesn't place you lying on your back which you want to avoid as much as possible. Make sure you keep your legs open with extra pillows to help keep your pelvis wide and open.


Squatting can be done standing, standing supported by your partner, or sitting on a birth stool or on the toilet. It is a wonderful position to use as your pelvis is at its widest. It opens up your pelvis and also uses gravity.

Birth stool

A birth stool is like a low chair that has the centre removed. It can help support your weight in a squatting position. Having your partner or birthing companion behind you can be great to lean back into between contractions, you can also lean forward with your arms around your partner while you sit on the stool. In the absence of a birth stool, sit on a toilet to support your body. This can be a good way to get labour progressing as we're used to 'letting go' when sitting on the toilet.

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