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

  • A happy mother with her newborn baby.

    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).

  • 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 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.

  • Woman in hospital bed ready to give birth.

    What to do when labour starts

    The moment has arrived. Your contractions are regular and building up, and your baby is really on his or her way…

  • Woman holding her back in discomfort.

    Symptoms of labour

    From contractions to your waters breaking, these are the typical signs that your body is getting ready for labour.

  • A plate of spicy curry.

    Can anything bring labour on?

    The waiting game can be torturous. Your due date has been and gone, you feel the size of a mothership and you’re oh so tired of waddling to the loo every five minutes.

  • Woman in labour wearing gas and air breathing mask.

    Pain relief in labour and birth

    There are quite a few pain-relief options available and it’s good to know what they are before you go into labour.

  • Woman lying in hospital bed ready to give birth.

    Assisted birth

    Even if labour has got off to a good start, it can sometimes slow down or problems may arise. If so, you may need some help to deliver your baby safely. These procedures are called ‘interventions’.

  • caesarean section

    Caesarean section

    A caesarean section is an operation where an obstetrician makes a cut in your stomach and womb and lifts your baby out through it.

  • Woman lying on hospital bed ready to give birth.

    Induction of labour - information about having labour induced

    In most pregnancies, labour will start on its own but in some situations your labour may need to be started artificially. This is called 'induction’ of labour.

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

Was this information useful?

Yes No


Your comment

Add new comment