Understanding and Utilizing your Hospital Birthing Bed

Learning about the different positions of a labor bed

Did you know how versatile the bed in the hospital is? 

In fact, it’s our favorite birth tool! 

Here are some of our favorite features of the bed, and the positions we like best for labor support!

Our Favorite Birth Bed Positions

Throne 

The beds are split into three parts. You can control the upper part in a fully upright position, semi recline, or flat. The bottom of the bed can also go up and down to create a platform for your feet. This position, with the bed fully up and feet fully down, is great for epidurals. It puts the best pressure on the cervix as baby descends, while still being comfortable. 

Woman laboring in throne position

Hands and Knees 

Putting the back of the bed in a reclined position keeps cushion for you knees as you kneel and lean your upper body over the back of the bed. Prop a pillow up there, and lean forward onto it to keep your hips open wide and rest between contractions. 

Leaning on the back of the hospital bed during labor

Ball on the Bed

Keeping the bed totally flat, you can kneel over a birth ball without taxing your knees on the floor!

Kneeling over a birth ball placed on a bed is a great way to give your knees a break

Stand and Lean 

Raise the flat bed as far as the setting allows. Place the birth ball on the bed and lean on it as you rest in a standing position during contractions. The same can be done sitting on the birth ball (as shown below), with the bed raised for comfort and pillows propped to rest your upper body and head upon.

Sitting on a birth ball while resting upper body on bed

Semi-Prone Rest 

Laying on your side, with the angle of choice for the top of the bed and the rest of the bed flat, use a peanut ball to adjust between the legs and angle your top leg far over towards the bed. Wedge in pillows under the belly and lower back to remain comfortable. If you need a wider angle, or if you don’t have a peanut or birth ball, use a tray table with pillows propped to place the top leg on next to the bed. 

Doula holding leg in semi-prone rest position

Squat Bar 

A squat bar can attach to the bed, in adjusted throne position, to let the mother rest between contractions. When one builds, hold onto the bar and let your feet, already on the propped bottom of the bed, rest into a squat.

Demonstrating the use of a squat bar on a hospital birthing bed

Semi Reclined

When pushing, if being in a widespread position feels best, you might need to recline the top of the bed to allow more comfort, breathing room and ability to push effectively. Feet can go into stirrups underneath the bed to give better traction!

doula and partner holding legs while semi-reclined

…and that’s not all!


We could tell you hundreds more ways we use the birth bed. Ask your labor doula for a full demonstration, or check them out at our monthly Comfort Measures In Labor class!