4 Birthing Positions That Beat Lying On Your Back!

Read Time: 2 Mins
When pregnant moms think about birthing positions, they often envision birth scenes from movies where women are flat on their back with their feet up in stirrups.  While all birthing positions have their pros and cons, there is little positive to be said about the outdated use of the lithotomy position.  To push effectively in labor, mom should be comfortable and in a position that promotes gravity and encourages a wide pelvis.  Let's discuss 4 birthing positions that beat lying on your back!

Birthing Positions #1:  Side-Lying

Side lying


How To:  To assume a side-lying birthing position, lie on your side with your back slightly curved and your knees slightly bent.  Your partner can hold up your upper leg, or you can place a peanut ball between your legs.  Bend your chin in to your chest and curve inward as you push with the contraction.

Benefits of Side-Lying

  • Gravity is neutral, which can decrease perineal tears during a fast delivery
  • Less tension is placed on the perineum
  • May help a posterior baby rotate to an anterior position
  • May help a baby with large shoulders to pass through mom's pelvis


Birthing Positions #2:  Kneeling


How To:  You can create a kneeling birthing position by kneeling in a hospital bed with the head of the bed elevated.  You can also kneel while resting on a chair or birth ball.

Benefits of Kneeling

  • Gravity is neutral, which can help decrease perineal tears during a fast delivery
  • Can help relieve back pain by tipping baby forward into the abdomen
  • May help a posterior baby to rotate to an anterior position
  • Allows for great blood flow to baby


Birthing Positions #3:  Sitting


How To:  You can pushing in a sitting birthing position on a toilet, birthing stool, or even on your partner's lap.

Benefits of Sitting

  • Increased gravity, which can encourage baby to descend
  • Most familiar position for pushing (think of having a bowel movement)
  • Increases mom's pelvic space, making it easier for the baby to descend into the birth canal
  • Easy to monitor baby from this position


Birthing Positions #4:  Squatting



How To:  To maintain a squatting birthing position, lock hands with your partner and lean back into the squat as he/she supports your weight.  Many birth facilities also have squatting bars built into the bed.  Remember to stand up or sit back between contractions to allow blood to recirculate.

Benefits of Squatting

  • Increased gravity, which can encourage baby to descend
  • Allows for good bearing down and pushing effort
  • Significantly widens the pelvic outlet, making space if baby is having difficulty passing through the outlet
  • Promotes good alignment of the baby in the birth canal
Do all you can to make the pushing experience easier by rejecting the old-school practice of lying flat on your back! Remember that a smooth descent of the baby into the birth canal is much more likely when you choose birthing positions that promote gravity and a wide pelvis.  To learn more about these birthing positions, consider participating in a high-quality natural childbirth class.  With preparation and practice, you can learn how to work with your labor contractions and your baby to experience a positive, empowering birth!




Jaime and Sheeva
Jaime and Sheeva

We, Jaime and Sheeva, are fertility specialists who work and live in New York City. For a full run-down of education and articles written, click here. Our practice is devoted to helping women achieve their goal of parenthood. Using a team approach (two minds are always better than one) rooted in honesty and transparency, we are... Read More