Positions for labour

Will you lie down, stand up, sit or squat – or do a mixture of all four? No-one knows for sure what is best for you and your baby when you go into labour.
Researchers have looked at the advantages of being upright during the first stage of labour – from the time contractions start until you’re ready to push – and in the second stage when you start to push and the baby is born.

First stage

Being upright during the first stage could mean standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, using a birthing ball or walking around. The research compared these positions to lying down.

Advantages of being upright

  • It is less painful
  • There is less need for an epidural or painkilling injection
  • Labour could be slightly shorter


  • There are no known disadvantages

Second stage

Being upright during the second stage could mean kneeling, squatting, sitting fairly straight.
Advantages of being upright

  • It is more comfortable and less painful
  • Pushing is easier
  • There is less chance of having a suction cup, forceps or caesarean delivery
  • There is less chance of getting an infection in your womb
  • There is less chance of tearing your vagina or the skin between your vagina and anus
  • Babies stand a better chance of breathing well right after they’re born
  • Labour could be shorter


  • There is more chance of tearing your labia (the lips around the vagina)

Being upright – how could it help?

  • Gravity could help your baby move down more easily and more quickly
  • There is less pressure on the blood vessels that go to your womb – these provide your baby’s oxygen supply
  • Your baby could be in a better position for moving through your pelvis
  • Your contractions could work better. This helps you to open up more quickly
  • When you squat or kneel, your pelvis may open wider and make more room for the baby to come through.

Maybe just being able to choose for yourself is the most important thing, not the positions themselves. The midwives will be able to assist you in your choice. The position you give birth in is up to you.