Birth Essentials

Positions for labour and birth

positions for pregnancy and birth

Positions for labour and birth is promoted by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) to enable labouring women to feel comfortable and to help labour to flow.

The RCM states that: “Gravity is the greatest aid in giving birth but for historical reasons we can make women give birth on their backs. These resources can be used to help women understand and practice alternative positions during pregnancy, to feel free to be mobile and to use different positions during labour and birth.”

The key to using movement and positions for labour and birth is to listen to your body, to allow instinct to take over so you use positions for rest and for your contractions.

Positions for labour and birth:
be as comfy as possible and let your body do what it needs to do…

You can sit on a ball or a chair to be upright. For extra support you can lean on someone or use the bed, a chair or a sling.

If you are moving around, you may want to lean into the wall or lean onto someone during a contraction or just for more support if you are tired.

If you want to be in water, a birthing pool, a bath or a shower can help you feel more comfortable and safe.

position 15

If you want or need to be on a bed, it can useful as well as comfortable to sit as upright as possible so you still have more gravity.

position 16

If you want to squat to birth your baby you may need to be supported by someone or you want to hold on to a chair, the bed or to lean on the birth ball.

position 17

If your baby is not quite in the right position and your contractions are a bit stop/start, it can be beneficial to walk up and down some stairs. Even marching on the spot could make a difference. The movement can maximise the space in your pelvis, which could help your baby move into a better position.

Positions for labour and birth:
to rest and conserve your energy…

It is really important to conserve your energy in labour – if you want to rest, find a position which help you feel as comfortable as possible.

Lying down may not be comfortable and it may make your contractions less effective so you can use positions where your body is upright and supported so you can rest.

Positions for labour and birth:
if your baby is being monitored…

If your baby is being continuously monitored, you most probably don’t need to stay on the bed. In many circumstances, you can  continue to use positions and movement to be as comfortable as possible.


Staying upright and moving around in labour can be so instinctive and essential to working with your contractions, staying comfortable and having more control.

Positions for labour and birth:
get started during your pregnancy

You will benefit from using movement and positions during your pregnancy, especially during your third trimester. It can be about being comfortable – easing backache, getting the weight of your baby bump off your back, sitting more comfortably, easing hip & pelvis ache. You can try:

  • sitting on a birth ball so you can rock and move your hips – this eases aches & discomfort
  • kneeling on the floor and leaning into a ball or the bed/sofa – this can stretch out your back and ese the pressure of your bump
  • you can stand and lean into the wall, a window ledge or a ball if you put it on the bed – this is a great option if kneeling isn’t comfortable for you.

The key to using positions is just to become familiar with different positions and find what feels most comfortable for you.

Women in labour can be less likely to assume positions they are not familiar with, especially because the media is full of images of labouring women lying on a bed. Preparation during pregnancy can help to change this behaviour and provide the opportunity to try different positions which can help to lessen the pain of the powerful contractions. (reference MIDIRS Positions in labour and delivery)

positions for labour and birth

To prepare well for labour & birth, there are a few options for you:


Positions Images: Royal College of Midwives
Words: Copyright – Janine Smith

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Working with parents since 2002

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This entry was posted in: Birth Essentials

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An experienced specialist in pregnancy, birth & early parenting, I have worked with parents since 2002. I am based in the North East so I regularly work with parents from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and across North Tyneside. Face-to-face sessions will continue with North East parents but digital courses and online sessions means I can work with parents everywhere.