Bold Turquoise

Oct 10 2013

What position is baby in? (Day 10- Bellies, Birth and Babies)

The Importance of your baby's position for labor

So, we all know what a breech baby is and we all hope to never have to face that circumstance, but have you ever heard of a posterior baby or transverse? Ladies, when it comes to baby's optimal position for birth it goes way beyond just head down in order for things to truly go smoothly! Let's look at some common malpresentations and some things you can do to encourage the right ones!

Common Pregnancy Malpresentations

Breech– Breech is actually a broad term that covers a few different ways of baby not being head down. The most common, and most desired if you are actually headed into delivery with baby still in that position, is Frank Breech (booty first). If you are facing a breech delivery this is typically the only presentation that doctors will attempt a vaginal delivery for (if they vaginally deliver breech at all). Other breech presentations include footling and complete.

Posterior– A posterior baby is facing sunny side up, basically their back is to your back and they are facing forward. This may seem like no big deal but it actually can make labor much more difficult and painful (ask me how I know!). Posterior babies typically cause extreme back labor along with creating points of “stalling” in labor, especially in or near transition. Because the entire top of the baby's head is trying to descend instead of just the crown, it is much more difficult for them to make their way down through the birth canal and typically cause much more damage to mama. Believe me when I say that you want to do everything you can prior to delivery to avoid your baby being in this position for labor!

Transverse– A Transverse baby is essentially laying sideways. This is an undeliverable position but there are things you can do to encourage baby to move and this typically only happens in women who have had many children.

Other Presentations– There are other types of presentations that include baby's head being tilted a certain way or even coming out face first, but these are less common.

What You Can Do to Encourage a Proper Position for Baby in Utero

How to encourage your baby's proper position in Utero

Many women don't realize just how many things there are that they can do to help their baby be in and stay in the correct position for labor. Here are a few that can help ease things along:

Don't Recline!

We all know that past about the 4th month we aren't supposed to lie on our backs as it can reduce bloodflow to the uterus, but I know that with my first pregnancy I went just about as far as I could to recline without actually being flat on my back. Little did I know that this was actually encouraging my son to lie on his back too! You see, it really makes a lot of sense- your baby's back is their heaviest part and therefore the part that will rotate downward the most easily. It's simple gravity. If you are reclining often, your baby is likely to have their back slip around to your back also. On the other hand, if you think of your belly as a hammock and do your best to sit forward as much as possible, your baby's back will nestle into your belly as it should be.

Sitting cross-legged is one way to encourage sitting forward, as well as sitting backward in a chair and leaning forward onto the back of it (you can support yourself with pillows if it is more comfortable). When you sleep at night be sure to lean as far forward over to one side as you can instead of reclining back as well. Cats pose, in yoga, where you are on all fours and arch then flatten your back, also helps baby maintain this correct position. Heck, I would often even spend a little bit of time in the evening crawling around on the floor playing with the kids at night to help my stomach take on that hammock-like quality!

Have Good Posture

We've talked about it before, but standing and sitting as tall as you can (as if there were a string pulling you upright out of the top of your head) with your booty tucked in and your stomach and perineal muscles engaged, will help your body to maintain proper alignment which is absolutely key to giving baby enough space to be in the proper position for delivery.

Use Essential Oils

An oil such as Valor (from Young Living) can help your body maintain proper alignment (it is good on its own or to help a chiropractic adjustment last longer). There are also oils, such as Peppermint and Myrrh that can encourage a malpresenting baby to turn before, or sometimes even during, labor. (Only use therapeutic grade essential oils to ensure your and your baby's safety.)

Get Chiropractic Care

There is a specific method called the Webster Technique which actually helps open enough room in the pelvis for a breech baby to turn head down, but chiropractic care can also help encourage any other malpresentation of a babe to right itself. In addition, chiropractic care can also help babies who are correctly positioned to remain so!

Have a Massage

Massage can also help loosen tight muscles and ligaments to open enough room in your pelvis for baby to get in a correct position. In addition, massage is a wonderful way to make a chiropractic adjustment last longer and be even more beneficial.

Have Accupuncture Performed

Accupuncture is another great way to release spots of tension and encourage baby to get or stay in a correct position. It may seem intimidating but a good practitioner will make the experience very pleasant and extremely helpful.

How Do I Know What Position Baby is in?

Typically, midwives are better at palpating (feeling your stomach to determine baby's position) than doctors are because they rely more heavily on it. Regardless, a good care provider should be able to tell at least the basics of whether baby is head down or anterior. You can also visit the Spinning Babies website to learn more about the importance of your baby's presentation and how to map your own belly.

Don't Take This Lightly

If you are in your third trimester then your baby's position is really something that you should be aware of and actively working to either maintain or correct. A little bit of extra effort and awareness now could save you a whole lot of pain and frustration later!

Join the Conversation

Bellies, Birth and Babies Series

Are you keeping up with the entire 31 Days of Bellies, Birth and Babies from a Doula's Perspective series? Go to this page for the full list of posts so far and be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any more! Also, please come join the “Ask the Doula” conversation on the FB page!

Ask the Doula on Facebook

You can also email me at boldturquoise at gmail dot com or go to this page if you would like more information about private classes and consultations or having me speak at one of your upcoming events! You can also contact me in the same ways I just mentioned if you would like more information about getting wholesale prices on Young Living Essential Oils along with free essential oils coaching.

*I am not a medical professional- just a mom and doula sharing from my experiences and research.

6 thoughts on “What position is baby in? (Day 10- Bellies, Birth and Babies)

  1. Erin Brown

    Quick question – I’m sleeping exclusively on my sides at night. Should I try to be upright-ish as well to encourage correct positioning or is laying flat on your side ok? Thanks!! This was an interesting read and something that has not grace the 4 or 5 pregnancy books I read.

    1. MacKenzie Post author

      Laying flat on your side is perfectly fine! Just make sure that you don’t put pillows behind you and lean back at all. The best way to do it is to keep your bottom leg mostly straight, bend your top leg and have it on a pillow and the son of hug a pillow with your top arm. Does that make sense. That position allows you to lean over more onto your belly (without being right on top of it, obviously) instead of back.

      Your left side is also the best side to lay on for baby’s position AND bloodflow, so lay on the left as much as you comfortably can.

      Stay tuned in because I think you will find a few things over the next couple of weeks that you haven’t heard in most books! I had no idea what posterior was going into my first labor, so when they kept using that term in the pain and confusion of labor I had NO idea what they were talking about or how to work on fixing it!

      Thanks for asking and reading! Don’t be shy and HUGE congrats!

      1. Erin Brown

        Thank you! I’ve been working on the hammock thing and I can feel the baby moving sometimes when a lean forward on pillows. So awesome AND weird 🙂 This series is great!

  2. Pingback: 31 Days of Bellies, Birth and Babies | Bold Turquoise

  3. Katie

    I gave birth to our second son in May – an unexpected complete breech presentation. Our midwife and her assistant did wonders at staying calm and with my husband were the best support team I could have asked for. It was the hardest 12 minutes of no pushing allowed, but praise the Lord, He had our DS in His hands and now he’s a vibrant 6 month old! Sooo, to all those pregnant mamas out there – do all you can to ensure a vertex presentation!! But, when it comes right down to it, we can trust the Lord to take care of you and your baby.

  4. Pingback: Turning Transverse (or Breech) Babies

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