Skip to Main Content

Exploring Alternative Positions for Childbirth

 Back To Blog

Exploring Alternative Positions for Childbirth

Jul 3, 2023
A woman being aided by doulas in childbirth with the text "Exploring Alternative Positions for Childbirth"

Today, when we think of a woman giving birth, most people will conjure up an image of a woman, sweaty and red in the face, partially reclined on her back with her legs held in twin stirrups. This has not always been the norm.  

There is a world of alternative birthing positions that can transform the birthing experience into something empowering and comfortable. By exploring non-traditional childbirth positions, women can discover a range of options that offer numerous benefits.  

In this blog post, we will delve into different labor positions for childbirth, highlighting the advantages of alternative birthing positions for a natural and empowering birth. 


Why Do Women Usually Give Birth on Their Backs?  

Throughout history, women have given birth in a variety of positions. Early historical art, like that found in Cleopatra’s Egypt around 70 BC, shows women giving birth in a squatting position, on all fours, standing up, or even kneeling.  

Even today when women give birth intuitively, they rarely do so on their backs.  

Some medical scholars believe that the tradition of women giving birth on their backs began between 1643 and 1715 when King Louis XIV ruled France. He promoted the reclined position, and the behavior of the monarch is thought to have influenced the French populace. 

Though this is not the sole reason mamas give birth in this position today, the practice became formalized around this era.  

However, just because this position had unusual origins, that does not mean it is bad. Giving birth on your back is a perfectly safe and healthy option.  

One reason that giving birth on your back may be preferable is that it allows medical professionals to more easily monitor the baby’s heart rate as the birth progresses.  

Learn more about the origins of birthing positions here

But, there are many alternative birthing positions that are overlooked. 

In the next section, we will explore some alternative birth positions and the advantages of those positions. 

Exploring Alternative Birthing Positions 

Let's look at some birthing positions that mamas might consider other than birthing on their back.  

Upright Birthing Positions 

Giving birth in upright positions makes use of the power of gravity, enhancing the efficiency of contractions and facilitating the baby's descent through the birth canal. These positions provide a more natural and empowering approach to childbirth. Here are some examples: 

  • Standing. By standing with support from a partner or a sturdy object, women can experience the benefits of an upright position, allowing the pelvis to fully open up and aiding the progress of labor.

  • Leaning Forward. Leaning forward on hands and knees or utilizing a birthing ball or cushioned surface for support is another effective way to take advantage of gravity while maintaining a comfortable position during labor.

  • Squatting. Squatting, either independently or with the assistance of a birthing bar or a partner, helps widen the pelvic outlet and facilitates more efficient contractions.

  • Side-Lying Position. Lying on the side, with one leg bent and slightly raised, promotes relaxation, and alleviates discomfort, and can be particularly beneficial during labor.

  • Hands and Knees Position. Also known as the all-fours position, supporting oneself on hands and knees helps alleviate an aching back and encourages the rotation of the baby for a smoother birth.

Reclining or Semi-Reclining Positions 

While alternative birthing positions involve the mother being partially upright or reclined, they still provide more comfort and control compared to the traditional supine position. Consider the following options: 

  • Sitting on a Birthing Stool. Specially designed birthing stools promote an open pelvis and an upright position, enabling active participation during the birthing process.

  • Semi-Reclining. In this position, the mother reclines at an angle, supported by pillows or a bed, while her legs are flexed and supported. This provides a relaxed birthing experience while maintaining a sense of control. 
Benefits to Upright Birthing Positions

Benefits of Alternative Birthing Positions. 

Exploring alternative birthing positions offers numerous benefits for women during labor. Some advantages include: 

  • Facilitated descent of the baby through the birth canal

  • Enhanced efficiency of contractions

  • Increased comfort and alleviate discomfort

  • Improved control and active participation

  • Reduced risk of interventions

  • Encouragement of a more natural and empowering birthing experience 

Expanding Your Options for a Personalized Birth Experience with Stork Helpers 

Childbirth should not be confined to a single position. Choosing the position you give birth in is an important step towards controlling your birth journey.  

How does placental placement affect birth? Learn more here! 

When considering alternative birth positions, you need a trusted partner who has the experience necessary to walk you through the birthing process. Tamara and Skylar have helped mamas give birth in many different positions, and we will be there for you too.  

Stork Helpers is your Cincinnati and Dayton doula. For an empowered birth journey, reach out to Stork Helpers today! 

Happy with the difference Stork Helpers has made in your pregnancy? Leave us a quick five-star review here! 

For more pregnancy and birthing content, follow Stork Helpers on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

loading gif