How to Stay Active During Labor

Are your only experiences of labor based on what you’ve read in a book or seen on television? If that is the case, you may be expecting to give birth on your back, lying down on a hospital bed, with your legs akimbo in stirrups, manically pushing down into your chest with every contraction. It doesn’t sound pleasant, does it?

Whilst this labor position may be necessary for some due to the addition of epidurals or monitoring, for many Moms to be, there is a far more effective and efficient way to give birth.

Staying active and changing positions during labor is not only a great distraction from the pain and discomfort of contractions, but it is also proven to actually reduce labor time, putting gravity on your side to help aid your baby’s journey down the birth canal.

Whilst traditionally, women have given birth in a bed, it’s perfectly natural to want to move around and change position during labor. By being more upright and mobile, contractions will not only be stronger and more effective but staying mobile can actually help widen the birth canal and accelerate the speed of dilation.

If you are looking to feel more in control during labor, here are some active labor positions for you to consider:


Scientifically, standing up during labor actually makes a lot of sense, using the benefits of gravity to help your baby drop further down the birth canal with every contraction. Walking around and rotating your hips can also help you feel calm and in control, whilst widening your pelvis and aiding dilation. Keeping calm is a really important part of labor and walking around allows you to take longer, deeper breaths that can release tension with every inhale and exhale.

Using a birthing ball

Birthing balls, or large gym balls, can be a really helpful tool to increase mobility during labor. Whether it is simply sitting on the ball and bouncing whilst rotating your hips in a circular motion, or resting on a ball to help you relax between contractions, birthing balls a great distraction from labor pains, whilst also allowing your partner full access to rub your back.

Slow dance

Standing upright with your partner holding you (as if you were about to slow dance) is another practical position for active labor. Not only can this feel quite intimate and offer emotional support and reassurance when you need it the most, but it allows physical support, allowing you to rest during contractions when you may be starting to feel weak or exhausted.

On all fours

If your baby is ‘back to back’ and not in the optimum position for labor, you may be experiencing significant pain in your back during contractions. Getting on the floor into a crawling position can help take the tension off your back whilst enabling you to rock, rotate and shift your weight during labor.

Ultimately, the best active labor position will depend upon your baby’s positioning and how well established your labor is, but being more active can help you feel more in control, cope better with the pain and listen to your body.

Lucy Cotterill
Lucy is a UK-based parenting and lifestyle blogger who has also featured in the Huffington Post. A Mom of two daughters, Lucy is passionate about sharing the true reality of parenthood and helping others through their first experiences. In her free time she loves to write, go on day trips with her family and photography.

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