Yoga Positions for Early Labor

They might not take all of the pain away, but these are some yoga positions that can help manage pain during early labor.

The other day my doula visited our home to show us some techniques we’ll use for pain management during early labor.  Our goal is to do as much of the labor at home as possible – we’re more comfortable at home, and thus more likely to be relaxed here – and so these are some moves and positions Jon and I can do to help me get through the pain.

If you get a book like The Birth Partner or other books about/that have sections on natural childbirth, these positions might be familiar to you.  I don’t know exactly what they’re called, so I’ve made up names myself.  These are my favorite positions that I learned from Stacy, the ones in which I felt the most comfortable.

Yoga Positions to Help with Labor Pain

Position 1: The Chair Straddle

This position is, for me, only really comfortable with my husband.  It would be awkward to do it with someone with whom I feel less intimate; I love Stacy, but I don’t know that I’d want to straddle her lap.  First, have your chosen labor companion sit up straight but comfortably in a dining chair.  Then, facing that person, sit in their lap.  Have your labor support wrap his/her hands around your back, and wrap your hands around his/her shoulders or neck, whatever feels comfortable.

Lean on your labor companion for support.  During contractions, your labor companion can use his/her knees to help push your knees apart to keep your hips open.  This is a really comfortable position because it doesn’t require you to hold yourself up at all, but your labor companion also has the support of the chair, and won’t grow tired as quickly.

Position 2: The Chair Squat

Thanks to my prenatal yoga class, I am all about doing the deep squats.  I’m super comfortable in the position now, and it can feel really good to give my hips some open space.  But when I’m having contractions, I might not have the strength to hold myself in the squat very well, so that’s where this technique is a boon.

Have your labor companion continue to sit in the dining chair.  This time, stand up and turn around with your back to them.  Stay close to the chair, and spread your legs wide to go into a deep squat.  Once in the squat, you can lean back against your companion’s legs.  They can put their arms under yours to help hold you up.  The squat is a great position for giving your hips more space during labor and for opening your pelvic floor, and having someone (who’s also supported by the chair and not just relying on their own strength) help support you in it will ensure that you can stay in this position for longer.

Position 3: The Counter Lean

This one is pretty simple.  Find a counter, table, or other flat surface against which you can lean with your body folded in half without putting too much strain on your back.  Lean your arms and head down against the counter, but put some space between your legs and the counter.  Use this space to rotate your hips in a circular motion.  Hip circles are good pain relievers during labor, and the counter-leaning position allows you to do them without having to support yourself as much.

Obviously different positions work for different people, and no one position is going to be a magic cure-all for early labor pains.  But these are all easy coping techniques that can still provide some relief.


*(The above image by imagerymajestic is from