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Find a birth position

You are ready to give birth when the neck of your womb (the cervix) is fully open (dilated) to 10cm. Your midwife or obstetrician will guide you through this part of labour.

Cervical effacement and dilation

Related topic

Stages of labour

During your pregnancy practice different positions and see what feels comfortable.

Being active during pregnancy, labour and birth is important. This is because it helps you to cope better during labour and helps to progress your labour.

Different positions include:

  • standing - moving hips from side to side or in a circular motion
  • kneeling
  • squatting
  • lying on your side - with a pillow between your knees
  • kneeling on all fours

Related topics

Staying active during labour

Preparing your body for labour and birth

Birthing aids and equipment

Ask your maternity unit or hospital about birthing aids they have available. These could include:

  • floor mats
  • bean bags
  • birthing balls
  • peanut balls
  • birthing stools
  • ceiling slings
  • showers and baths
  • birthing pools

Bring an extra pillow if you like and perhaps a yoga mat. Bring your own birthing ball if this is not provided by the hospital.

Birthing pools

If you are labouring or giving birth in water, you should also try different positions and change them. They can include:

  • kneeling, leaning over the side of the pool
  • squatting, holding the sides of the pool
  • using floats under your arms for support (you may need to bring your own - ask if they are available in the hospital before the birth)
  • floating on your back with your hands holding the sides and your head supported on a waterproof pillow
  • floating on your tummy with your head turned sideways, resting on a pillow

You will be asked to exit the pool regularly to use the toilet and other birthing aids. Eat a light diet and drink oral fluids. Your midwife will guide and support you.

Make sure you bring flip-flops, extra towels and a dressing gown. Some women listen to music or use hypnobirthing techniques while in the pool.

Page last reviewed: 04/12/2018
Next review due: 04/12/2021