Horizontal Positions for Giving Birth

What are the advantages of horizontal positions for giving birth? We'll be taking a look at the 4 most common ones in this article.
Horizontal Positions for Giving Birth

Last update: 05 December, 2019

Horizontal positions for giving birth are the most common ones, and they’re the ones most used in our hospitals. We’ll explain the different positions, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

The birth position is a personal choice for each woman, and they should choose which one they feel most comfortable with. There are either horizontal or vertical positions, although, as we said before, the most popular ones with women are the horizontal ones.

4 horizontal positions for giving birth

Lithotomy position (or supine decubitus)

This is the most popular way of giving birth. The mother-to-be will lie down on the bed with her legs bent and supported on the stirrups. Although it’s true that this is the most common position, it’s actually not the best for the natural evolution of childbirth.

In the next section of the article we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of this position.

All-fours position

This position has two variants. The mother can be placed on the bed, or directly on the floor. If she chooses the floor, then cushions and other objects will be placed so that she doesn’t feel uncomfortable.

In both cases, the body will be in the same position. The woman will be on all fours, and her weight will rest either on her hands or elbows, using the way that’s simpler and easier for the mother.

In addition, it’s advisable to place the feet and legs further out than her knees so that she can hold her weight better.

Left lateral (lying) position

This is also known as the left lateral decubitus or SIMS position. In this position, the mother will be lying down, but on her side. One of her legs will be supported on the stirrup, and her knee will be bent in order for her to have the best posture when it comes to pushing.

Horizontal Positions for Giving Birth

Fetal position

This is the same position as the left lateral position, but the woman will curl up her body. As she curls up and puts pressure on her abdomen, the pelvis will expand, thus making it easier for the baby to come out.

Advantages and disadvantages of horizontal positions for giving birth

Now that we’ve got to know the four horizontal positions for giving birth, we want to show you the advantages and disadvantages of each of them so you can choose the one that seems best for you.

Lithotomy or supine decubitus position


  • There is less chance of blood loss, i.e. bleeding during childbirth
  • It’s the best position for doctors to be able to follow each step of labor
  • The possibility of flexing the legs as much as possible makes the pelvis dilate, which then helps the baby to come out quicker


  • It isn’t a comfortable position for the woman, as she has to put in more effort, and it’s also more painful for her
  • In this position, the mother must push against gravity, which is much more difficult
  • There is a greater chance of tearing
  • The baby gets less oxygen than with other positions
  • It eliminates a lot of the woman’s freedom of movement

All-fours position


  • Helps relieve back pain
  • Greater elasticity in the area of the perineum
  • It’s the best posture for obese women


  • Mothers tend to reject this method because of the position they have to adopt
  • The doctors must have experience with this position because it’s more complicated to monitor how the birth is going
Horizontal Positions for Giving Birth

Left lateral position


  • A comfortable position for the woman, and it allows her to rest more if necessary
  • The contractions have greater intensity and, because of this, it’s more effective
  • It’s a good position for the perineum due to being able to control the position of the baby’s head
  • It’s beneficial for the uterus


  • It doesn’t have any particular disadvantages, unlike the other positions

The fetal position has similar advantages and disadvantages to the left lateral position, because, as we said before, it’s practically the same position.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gayeski, M. E., & Brüggemann, O. M. (2009). Puerperal women’s perceptions on vertical and horizontal deliveries | Percepciones de puérperas sobre la vivencia durante el parto en la posición vertical y horizontal. Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-11692009000200003

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.