A pregnant woman lies on a patient bed and holds her stomach. A doctor hovers over her.
Surveying 2,400 pregnant women, one research study found that about 68 percent of moms chose to give birth lying on their back. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

When your delivery date arrives, there will be many different positions from which to choose.

As long as there are no underlying concerns from the doctor, you typically won’t be expected to choose any one position over another.

In a previous post, I explained how moms can use many different positions throughout the labor process, settling on an altogether different position for the actual delivery.

According to one study, most women—about 68 percent—prefer to give birth while lying on their back.

Here are some of the commonly chosen positions:


Squatting is a great position because it opens the pelvis. Specifically, it opens the pelvic outlet—the lower part of the pelvis—which helps the baby descend through the birth canal.

This position can help open the pelvis anywhere from 1 to 2 centimeters, providing some much-needed extra room for your baby. This also uses gravity, which is a big plus.

You can squat using a squatting bar on the bed, or you can use a rebozo or a birth ball. You can also squat against the wall or use your partner for support.

The downside here is that you can tire easily, but you can always rest in another position as needed.


This involves mom lying on her side, although she needs to have her partner or doula hold up her leg up so she can push.

While this position doesn’t use gravity as much as squatting does, it does open the pelvis on one side. This is a great option for moms who choose an epidural or those who simply want to try another position.

Birth stool

Many hospitals have a birth stool for pushing and delivery. This stool has a cut-out area, making it look much like the letter C.

It allows mom to relax between pushing.

A mom can also sit on the toilet and push, although for obvious reasons this cannot be used for delivery.

A woman’s body will instinctually recognize which muscles to push or relax when she sits on the toilet during labor. This position helps many women relax and target specific muscles for pushing.

Hands and knees

This position improves comfort for moms whose babies are in the posterior position, which is when the baby is head-down, facing mom’s abdomen.

A variation of the hands-and-knees position involves leaning into the back of the bed. You would have the top of the bed up more straight, but facing it.

Your arms can get tired, so leaning on the bed or a birth ball can be a great help. This helps take the weight of the baby off your spine. You can also sit and relax between pushes in this position.

The peanut ball

The peanut ball can be very effective not just in labor but in birth, too.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Perinatal Education found that a peanut ball shortened labor time by about 90 minutes, on average.

By using the ball in the second stage of labor—the pushing stage—moms experienced a delivery time of about 21 minutes, compared to 43 minutes for those who did not use a ball.

The study involved patients who chose to have an epidural.

Moms who choose not to have an epidural can experience shorter delivery times by using the ball, but they would feel the baby moving down. Many choose instead to use more upright positions.