The browser you are using is too old for our website. Please visit from Chrome and you will be able to browse normally.


      Birthing positions

      Birthing Ball

      Birthing positions

      Comfort is key

      Everything you need to know about birthing positions


      It’s natural to feel nervous about giving birth. Understanding your options and the benefits of different birth positions can help you feel more prepared. It’s also important to know what to expect if you need an assisted delivery or a caesarean, in case things don’t go to plan.

      Being in a good position

      During labour, there are certain positions that can make the birthing process easier. The most important thing is to make yourself as comfortable as possible, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Being upright, able to move around and free to change positions is better for you and your baby. As labour progresses, your baby is busy manoeuvring through the birth canal and it helps if your body can respond to the changing sensations.



      When labour starts, you’ll probably feel a bit restless and want to be on the move. This is why many women prefer to be up on their feet. Leaning on a bed, wall or your birth partner will take some of the weight off your legs and make it less tiring.


      The benefits of standing

      • Helps widen your pelvis and manoeuvre your baby into the right position
      • Encourages your contractions to become regular and stronger
      • Some women find standing relieves pain
      • Being upright means gravity is on your side



      Some women feel a natural urge to squat during labour. Although it’s not an easy position to maintain and can put a lot of pressure on your knees and back, you can use your birth partner for physical support or ask your midwife for a birthing ball or stool.


      The benefits of squatting

      • Widens your pelvis, giving your baby more room to turn and move
      • Gives you the freedom to shift your weight around
      • Makes your body weight press down on your uterus, which should make pushing easier
      • As with standing, gravity is in your favour
      Hospital Birth

      During the latter stages of my labour I began to think I might need an epidural. Thankfully, my midwife suggested I change positions from lying down to sitting up and I was able to avoid one.

      Beth, mum to Amelia

      Assisted delivery

      If your baby needs a little extra help moving down the birth canal in the later stages of delivery, your midwife or doctor might suggest an assisted delivery using ventouse or forceps.

      There are various reasons for needing an assisted delivery:

      • You might be getting too tired to push
      • Your contractions may have become weaker
      • If you’ve been pushing for a while, your baby might be getting short of oxygen

      Also, if you have had an epidural, you may find it hard to direct your pushing and your muscles may be too relaxed, making it difficult for your baby’s head to turn the right way.


      Using a ventouse

      During this type of assisted delivery, a suction cup (sometimes known as a ‘kiwi cup’) will be placed on the top of your baby’s head in the birth canal. The level of suction is controlled safely with a pump and as you push with your next contraction, the cup will also be pulled. The ventouse is normally only used a maximum of three times to avoid harming your baby.


      Using forceps

      With a forceps delivery, it’s usually necessary for a doctor to perform a controlled cut to make more room for the baby’s head and avoid any further damage to your soft tissue. While you push with a contraction, the doctor will pull gently to guide your baby along. You may need a local anaesthetic as it can be painful. A forceps delivery is usually carried out in an operating theatre, in case a caesarean section is required.

      Whatever the reason for an assisted delivery, your midwife will explain what’s happening and make sure you know exactly what’s going on.

      Caesarean section

      caesarean section (C-section) involves delivering your baby through an incision at the base of your bump. Unless you have a particular reason for planning a caesarean, it’s not likely to be part of your expectations for birth. However, for various reasons, some women do end up needing a C-section, so it’s best to know what it involves, just in case.


      What happens during a C-section

      Most caesareans are performed under regional anaesthetic to numb you from the waist down, using either an epidural or a spinal block. This means you’re awake as your baby is born, so that you can start bonding at the earliest opportunity.

      You’ll normally have a screen put up across your chest so that you can’t see the operation itself. If your birth partner wants to see what’s going on, that’s fine, as long as you feel comfortable with it.

      Your doctor will make the cut along the top of your bikini line, which will have to be shaved for the operation. With another incision through your uterus, they should simply be able to lift your baby out.

      Although the actual delivery of your baby only takes around five minutes, the entire length of the procedure is usually around 45–60 minutes.


      What happens afterwards

      Your birth partner will be able to hold your baby while you’re being stitched up. This takes roughly half an hour, after which you should be able to start breastfeeding. It will probably be more comfortable to lie on your side but if you find this awkward, ask your midwife for help.

      Recovering from a C-section takes about six weeks – longer than after a vaginal birth. All being well, you should be able to go home with your baby after 24 hours, although most women stay in hospital for 2–4 days.


      Make sure you include the following in your birth plan:

      • Your preferred birthing position
      • Any particular views you may have on methods of assisted delivery
      • Your preferences during a C-section, should it become necessary

      Expert advice

      Get the support you need, the moment you need it

      Join now for free

      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that
      each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your
      baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one
      round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

      Join Aptaclub

      Related articles

      Questions about feeding and nutrition?

      Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.

      Expert advice

      Get the support you need, the moment you need it

      Join now for free

      Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

      Privacy Settings

      You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy.

      • Strictly necessary

        They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

      • Analytical cookies

        They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

      • Personalisation cookies

        They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

      • Targeting cookies

        They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.