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Best Labor and Birthing Positions for a Comfortable Delivery

pregnant woman in hospital gown at hospital preparing to give birth

When I was doing active doula work and attending multiple births a month, I had the honor and privilege of helping families plan for an optimal and ideal birth. We talked through packing lists and labor prep, and we also discussed and practiced different laboring positions.

Move Into Different Positions

Part of my role I felt was most helpful was educating and encouraging pregnant and laboring

women to be mindful about how they positioned themselves. In labor, to aid in effective contractions and descent of baby, it is critical to be moving into different positions throughout the journey. It is ideal to have a laboring mom change positions at least every 10-20 minutes while in active labor (this is not necessarily true during pushing).

To assist in this goal, we would often get settled in the laboring room and request whatever equipment may be helpful (exercise ball, peanut ball, squat bar, mat, non-slip socks, etc.) and then we would set up a laboring circuit. I found that this was actually accomplishing

more than just optimizing baby position/descent, but also gave the mom a more tangible view of time and her next steps.

In the waves of increasingly intense contractions, being able to verbalize ‘only three more contractions here and then we are going to move’, seemed to provide an extra bit of will-power for these strong mothers. Here is a list of different positions to consider and refer to during labor. I strongly suggest you practice them ahead of time:

Movement & Postures To Consider For Labor

Exercise ball

  • Figure-8s, hip rocks, leaning over the ball, using it in the shower

Resting on your hands and knees

Squatting with a squat bar on the bed

Supported sitting

  • Your partner sits in a chair with feet on the ground and knees at 90 degrees. You face your partner and sit yourself onto partner’s thighs with your bottom hanging between partner’s knees. Place arms over partner’s shoulders and thighs over their thighs.


  • Either on the floor or utilizing a foot stool or chair

Standing/Supported partner

  • Bend over and hang face-to-face

  • Partner stands behind and lifts your belly


  • Utilize a door frame or over-door squat bar to dangle forward

Leaning into a wall or on the bed (with or without a ball)

  • This is a great position for counter-pressure on your hips or a back massage


  • Down on both your hands and knees in the tub

  • On the ball with the shower head pressure on the back or belly

Tailor sitting on the mat or bed

Side-lying with a pillow(s) between your thighs or Texas roll

  • this is most helpful for a cervical lip or a baby not in optimal position.

  • Lay on your left side with a pillow between your knees, or lift your right knee high up on a stack of pillows and shift your left hip back behind you so your belly aims into the mattress. Use pillows to support what needs support. Switch to your right side and try each of the different variations

Walk the hallway

  • Utilize the rails for support during contractions

Birthing stool/squatty potty

Sitting on the toilet backwards

Shake the Apple Tree’

  • In downward dog position with your doula/partner/nurse cocooning your bottom/hips with a sheet and holding the sheet tightly at your hips and gently ‘shaking’ the pelvis front to back (video demonstration)


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