Labour positions

There’s no right or wrong position to be in during labour. Listen to your body, experiment with different movements and do what’s most helpful for you.

Your midwife will encourage you to find a position that suits you – everyone's different.

Keep moving to stay comfortable

You’re likely to cope best with labour if you can move around freely and change position when you need to. You may find different positions work best at different times.

Lying on your back can be uncomfortable and makes it more difficult for your baby to get through your pelvis, so your midwife is unlikely to suggest it.

Positions to try

The best position during labour is a personal choice
Techniques for using a birthing ball during labour are taught at antenatal classes NHS Health Scotland

Try these positions and rest when you need to:

  • Walking and standing
  • Kneeling – you can rest by leaning forward between contractions
  • Sitting – you can sit astride a chair and lean forward resting on a cushion or pillow, sit on a birthing ball or a beanbag
  • Use a birthing ball
  • Supported standing or squatting
  • Rock on all fours or rock your pelvis in whatever position you find comfortable

Tommy's has more about movement and positions during labour

Supported standing or squatting

This position opens your pelvis wide and your baby can be born with the help of gravity.

You’ll need support for your upper body to keep your balance and your partner can do that by holding you from behind, under your arms.

Make sure your knees are always lower than your hips as this reduces the strain on your joints.

Using a birthing ball

A birthing ball is a large inflatable ball used in a gym. You might find it comfortable because you can rock or tilt your pelvis.

When you’re sitting on one you’re at a good angle for childbirth with your pelvis above your knees.


Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.