Pregnant woman touching her baby bump.

Labor and Birthing Positions for a Comfortable Delivery

Creating a birth plan can help increase your confidence about your big day. It provides you with reassurance as to what will happen, who will be there, and what may need to be altered if circumstances change. By going through all of the different details, you’ll prepare yourself for labor and get a better understanding of what decisions may need to be modified in the moment. While choosing your doctor, your hospital, and your post-delivery care is an important part of this process, so is educating yourself on how to be comfortable throughout delivery. To help find something that works for you, consider some of the best labor and birthing positions for a comfortable delivery.


What to Know About Labor and Birthing Positions

Every woman has different preferences for their labor and birthing positions. Some women find that walking around in between contractions helps them focus, while others spend their time in the fetal position. You may want to use a birthing ball or get on all fours. As long as your movements are safe, the choice is really up to you. There’s no concrete way to give birth and your positions or movements can be easily adjusted throughout the process.

Although many women tend to deliver their babies vaginally while lying down on a bed, they engage in several movements beforehand. In fact, even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends changing your position frequently during labor to help you decrease pain and feel more comfortable. As long as your doctor can continue to monitor both you and your baby’s health and movements don’t jeopardize either of your wellbeing, you can pretty much do whatever you need. Being in an upright position early on may even help you expedite labor when it comes time to push.

While movement is encouraged and can help manage pain throughout early labor, once active labor begins (i.e., it’s time to push) your mobility will decrease. You still have options, but knowing them ahead of time will help you quickly get into the most comfortable position for your delivery.


Different Labor Positions to Try

If you choose to deliver naturally, without an epidural, there are several different positions that may help improve your comfort levels. During early labor—when you begin to experience contractions—consider trying some of the following positions.

  • Standing Up or Walking — staying in an upright position allows gravity to help you through labor. It can encourage your pelvis to open and prepare for the upcoming delivery, as the gravity will push your newborn closer to the birth canal. During the early stages of labor, you may also find that walking around the room can help with pain. Have your partner provide you with support when you’re upright, as contractions may make it difficult to do so on your own.


  • Rocking — this is another beneficial position to try during labor. You may find that rocking on a chair or birthing ball provides a nice rhythm to help you through the contractions. However, some women find that simply swaying back and forth provides more relief than sitting still does. The gentle movement can help you alleviate some of the intense feelings associated with labor.


  • Supported Leaning — if you’re going to use the leaning position, always make sure that you’re supported either by your partner, a nurse, or something like a stack of pillows. You can also get on your knees and lean against a birthing ball with combined rhythmic rocking. This can be particularly beneficial for women who are experiencing prominent back labor. Leaning can also help prepare your hips and pelvic region for delivery.


  • Sitting Down — finally, if any of the above positions are too much, you can always just sit down. Sitting upright can help you alleviate some of the more intense contractions. It also provides you with a degree of gravitational help. Get added support as needed and try to find the most comfortable position.


    While you can continue these positions into active labor, some women may find that movements become more difficult. As long as you’re supported and you and your baby are monitored, you can do what’s most comfortable to you.

    Women who have an epidural may be more limited in their positions. Depending on the type of epidural you receive, you may not be able to stand up or walk around. Instead, focus on seated or lying positions to help you alleviate discomfort. Your partner or a nurse may need to guide you into these positions, but don’t be afraid to ask for assistancestart your order

    Birthing Positions for Vaginal Delivery

    Once active labor is over, it’s time to begin pushing. You’ll want to transition to a different position to do this, but there are still several options from which you can choose. Some of the most popular include the following.

  • Lying Down — this is the most common way that women give birth. Typically, you’ll be lying down in a slightly reclined position with your feet spread wide either on the bed or in stirrups. For many women, this is the most comfortable and easiest way to progress through delivery.


  • Side Lying — another option is to lie down on your side and open up the top leg. You can support your leg with your arm or have your partner support you in the position. Lying on your side can open your pelvis and may help prevent tears.


  • Squatting — although a little less common, squatting during labor and delivery can help enlarge your pelvic opening. It also allows gravity to help ease your baby out of your vaginal canal. You’ll want to stand with your knees wide and feet flat on the floor. You can use an assistive device to help keep you supported in this position.


  • On All Fours — delivering on all fours is another great option to help alleviate back pressure and provide more support than the squatting position. If your baby is slightly tilted or rotated, this position can also help correct their position.


  • Kneeling — kneeling provides similar benefits to delivering on all fours and squatting, but is a bit of a variation. You can kneel on both legs or keep one on the ground and the other leg in a lunge position to help with pushing.


    Although many women deliver their babies while lying down, this isn’t necessarily the best position. It tends to increase the average time of labor and delivery and may be associated with higher levels of pain. However, there are also risks of delivering in other positions. To make sure you have a better understanding of each position’s risks and rewards, talk to your doctor. If any position causes changes to your baby’s heart rate during delivery, your doctor will have you change into an alternative position.


    Additional Tools to Aid in Labor and Delivery

    There are also some additional tools that you can use to help facilitate a comfortable labor and delivery. Some of the most common include the following.

  • Birthing Ball — this is essentially just an exercise ball that’s the right size for your needs. You can use a birthing ball for several positions, so it comes in handy regardless of what you decide to do. You should choose a birthing ball that’s the right diameter and height for your size. Your doctor can help you with this ahead of your due date


  • Birthing Bar — a birthing bar is something that attaches to your bed to provide support in a variety of positions throughout labor and delivery.


  • Birthing Stool — this is basically a chair without a back. It’s used to help with active pushing, as it helps women target the correct muscles needed for delivery. There are specific brands and models made for delivery, so consider doing some research ahead of your big day if you’re interested in this tool.


  • Peanut Ball — a peanut ball can be used to support various positions during labor. You can also use pillows to achieve the same result.


Everyone experiences labor and delivery differently. One position may be comfortable for you, but unbearable for another. The important thing is to find something that works for your situation. Always discuss any concerns with your doctor and get prepared early. To help you on your journey into parenthood, Byram Healthcare offers free breast pumps through insurance to new and expecting moms. Browse our product guide and place your order today.