Pregnant mom pushing on her side during simulated birth with banner that reads 'Movement & Birth: How Does It Help?'

Movement & Birth: How does changing positions during birth help?

You’ve heard how medications like an epidural can help during birth, but have you heard how movement can help? Read on to hear why and how changing positions during birth helps.

Using movement and positioning during birth has the potential to reduce:*

Graphic of 1/3 Women in the US receiving C-sections and 1/5 recommended as medically necessary by WHO. This is depicted with women stick figure fractions.

That means a better experience for mom and baby overall!

While epidurals are used primarily for pain management, movement can help with that too. Movement can even be used in certain ways in conjunction with an epidural.*

Most women in the US will give birth in a hospital. Hospitals practice medicine (and for good reason! Medicine can be life-saving). Since their focus is medicine, sometimes movement is not the main focus, so let’s dive into why and how to use movement during labor.

Just a heads up, this is a mini-series. This topic is too large to cover in one sitting. You can subscribe to pregnancy content here or get all of the content in < 2 hours in my Active Labor e-course

How does movement and changing positions during birth help?

Short and simple answer: mainly gravity and making more room for baby.

1. Gravity

When changing positions during birth, certain positions work with gravity while other positions make you work against it. Think about it like this: it’s much easier to push a ball down a slide than up one.

Graphic Showing the forces while pushing during labor. Top graphic shows a ball being pushed uphill with text Pushing Laying Down. Bottom graphic shows a ball being pushed downhill with text Pushing When Upright.

2. Making Room for Baby

I like to think about birth like a 3-D puzzle. Is your head perfectly circular? It’s not. Neither is a baby’s and neither is your pelvis. This means that certain movements and positions can create more space than others that could impact the baby’s ability to exit the pelvis. The amazing thing is that while you are changing positions during birth and your uterus contracts, baby also moves to help out too. Fascinating. 

Movement and positioning has also been associated with shorter labors and can also be a form of pain management.

Learn More About Movement & Birth

This post is part of a mini-series on movement and birth by me, Alex Courts, co-creator of Postpartum Recovery Timeline and creator of Active Labor e-course that covers how to ease birth with movement.

Catch my next blog posts on the best movements and positions for birth.

You can subscribe to pregnancy content here or get all of the content in < 2 hours in my Active Labor e-course

Product Image with title Active Labor and text below that reads 'Childbirth Prep Class Learn how to ease birth with movement and hands-on support from your partner'. Image below of pregnant mother holding her belly and logo for Vibrant Physical Therapy and Wellness in bottom right corner.
Pregnant mom pushing on her side during simulated birth with banner that reads 'Best Positions for Labor'


American Journal of Roentgenology. 2002;179: 1063-1067. 10.2214/ajr.179.4.1791063

Gupta JK, Sood A, Hofmeyr GJ, Vogel JP. Position in the second stage of labour for women without epidural anaesthesia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD002006. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002006.pub4.

*Note: We provide information on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery not healthcare advice. We encourage you to discuss any content with your healthcare provider – we value their role in your recovery and this site is not a replacement for healthcare services like obstetricians, gynecologists, midwives, primary care providers, physical and occupational therapists, and mental health providers. See our Terms & Disclaimer and our Resources for more information.