Movement and positions during labour

If you can, listen to your body and try to keep moving during the first stage of labour. If you move around you are less likely to be tense.

For the same reason, you might want your birth partner to give you a massage or back rub. Movement and massage help your brain release its own pain-relieving chemicals, called endorphins, and being upright helps push the baby downwards.

Sitting on an exercise or birth ball might also help. You can use a birth ball and other drug-free methods of pain relief, such as gas and air.

Water birth

If you are interested in a water birth tell the midwife this when you come in. Water can help with pain relief.

If you are having a water birth you will not be able to have an epidural but you will be able to use gas and air.

You will be moved to a birthing pool if there is one free. The midwives can still check the baby’s heartbeat using waterproof equipment.

Find out more about having a water birth.

Good positions to try during labour

There are lots of positions you can get into that can help you cope with labour. These may change depending on how far along you are. Do whatever feels right for you - these are some ideas to try:

  • Lean on a wall, bed or bean bag.
  • Rock on all fours.
  • Kneel, holding onto your birth partner or the head of the bed.
  • Lean over a chair or onto the bed.
  • Rock your pelvis in whatever position is comfortable.
  • Sit, leaning back against your birth partner.
  • Walk around.
  • Bounce or rock your hips on a birth ball.

Rest when you need to and don't worry about what you look like. The midwives have seen it all before so do what feels good for you!

Read more

  • Heavily pregnant woman sat at home with soft lighting looking down at her bump with a neutral expression

    The latent phase of labour

    This part of labour can sometimes last a long time. This page explains what the latent phase of labour is and how to get through it as comfortably as possible.

  • A baby asleep in his mum's arms


    Week 41. Hello baby - my birth story

    In the diary of a third pregnancy our diarist tries to capture the pain and magic of the birth of her son.

  • A photo of a heavily pregnant woman sat on the sofa listening to music with her eyes closed

    What is hypnobirthing?

    Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques.

  • A new mum and dad looking down at their newborn baby

    Having a home birth

    You might like to consider giving birth at home for a more relaxed experience in familiar surroundings. Find out whether this is the right option for you.

  • A photo of a woman holding her baby after giving birth in water

    How to prepare for a water birth

    Are you thinking about having a water birth? Find out about the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth in the water, what to wear and what the pain relief options are.

  • A photo of a woman just after she's given birth with her newborn baby on her chest and stomach having skin to skin contact

    Delayed cord clamping (DCC)

    Cutting the cord immediately after the birth has been routine practice for 50-60 years but more recently research is showing that it is not good for the baby.

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    What to expect when your waters break

    Your waters can break before you go in to hospital but they are more likely to break during labour, or they can even be broken for you by your midwife to speed up your labour (a process known as artificial rupture of membranes).

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    Braxton Hicks

    Braxton Hicks is the name given to the action when the womb contracts and tightens with your bump becoming hard to touch; it then relaxes again, becoming soft.

  • Pregnant woman in a yoga class

    5 positive ways to prepare for labour

    Manage your anxieties about giving birth, with some helpful advice from mums who’ve been there.

  • Pregnant woman sitting on exercise mat.

    Getting your baby into the best birth position

    The ideal position for your baby to be in for labour and birth is head down, their back towards the front of your stomach.

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    4 ways your body gets ready for labour

    At the end of your pregnancy, you may have some signs that your baby will arrive very soon, even though you may not go into labour for a little while yet.

  • Pregnant woman being checked over by doctor.

    What is a membrane sweep?

    The membrane sweep is a drug-free way of helping to bring on labour when you are going past your due date.

Last reviewed on February 2nd, 2015. Next review date September 2nd, 2016.

Was this information useful?

Yes No


Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

Your comment

Add new comment