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Optimal Positions for Baby during Childbirth

Today’s blog is all about ensuring baby is in the best position for labour or at least baby gets into the correct position for labour. When I write these blogs I link other information so that you can do your research & explore as much literature as you can in order for you to have the best outcome. Optimal Fetal Positioning is a phrase coined by Jean Sutton describing how a woman can assist her baby to formulate the easiest position for birth.

Years ago women didn’t have all the modern gadgets to help with the household cleaning.  We didn’t use cars as often and we didn’t have such comfy sofa’s to relax on. The ‘back to back’ labour was not as common as women worked harder. There are many that believe it is our lifestyles and Body mass index that allows a baby to get cosy in the ‘back to back’ position. This can lead to longer labours so here’s how you can help yourself.

As a practicing midwife I have explored this subject in great detail and attended many courses & used the knowledge to help women either in antenatal clinic, antenatal classes or during labour.

fetal skull Our life styles can have an impact into how baby sits in the uterus during pregnancy & how baby’s position can impact on labour.  The ideal position for baby is the Occipital Anterior (OA) position, this means baby is head down has its back facing out towards the world and tummy facing mummy. This diagram highlights the fetal bone structure and the soft areas that will be able to adapt during labour.

baby positionsAs you can see in the next diagram there are many different positions for baby to move into during pregnancy these are all fine, so don’t get overly concerned.  Midwives acknowledge that the easiest position for baby is the Occipital Anterior (OA) position.  One of the reasons we feel your tummy during your prenatal check is in order to calculate in which position baby is lying. It has been very well documented that babies, that stay in the Occipital posterior position may create a slower labour.  So midwives advise women on how they can help their baby negotiate its way into the correct position.

So what can you do to encourage you baby into the correct position for labour? Pregnancy yoga classes are a great place to start. Yoga techniques enable you to be aware of your posture, strengthen your core muscles and also teach you great breathing techniques again check out the literature.
Keeping active is very important, so is being aware of your posture.  We live in an age whereby we have machines to do all our housework for us, and we sit on comfortable sofas when at home which encourage us to slouch.  Another step I would advise you to do is to invest in a Yoga/Birthing ball. These do not cost a fortune and you can start helping your pelvis to become supple from about 34 weeks.  The birth ball encourages you to form a correct posture so I recommend at least 20 minutes per day.  You do not need to undertake crazy Abs!! that comes after baby is born.

Here are some other tips for you to try during pregnancy and in labour

  • Regularly use upright and forward leaning positions which will enlarge the size of the pelvis and encourage your baby’s back (the heaviest part of the body) to lie towards your abdomen.
  • Sit to read on a dining chair with elbows resting on the table, knees apart and leaning slightly forward
  • Kneel on the floor leaning over a bean bag, floor cushion or chair to watch television or other such activities
  • Use a yoga/sports ball

I have also listed positions to avoid during pregnancy & labour

  • Relaxing in semi reclining positions where you have your knees higher than your hips
  • Sitting with your legs crossed
  • Sitting for long trips in a car with bucket seats either as the driver or as a passenger. If necessary then use a wedge cushion under your bottom to alter the angle of the seat.

So now you have a little insight into how to get the baby into the best position for labour.  I would like to add some baby’s get comfortable in certain positions, even by following these rules you may start labour with the baby in the OP positions, don’t worry baby’s do move during labour & the best way to help this is to keep active and explore all the resources, the NHS choices website for example has a video that may help.

By applying these simple steps you will increase your chances of a normal labour, reduce your need for pharmaceutical pain relief and enjoy a really good outcome for you and your baby. If you are a ‘low risk’ reasonably healthy woman then you may want to consider delivery at home or a birth centre where you will be able to move around.  In any situation the midwife will encourage you to change positions let her advise you.

For regular updates and information visit my facebook page.  I will keep you posted on many subjects ladies now enjoy your pregnancy.

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Lots of Love Wendy Kuharska (was Richert) Practicing Midwife and Founder of www.callthemidwives.co.uk

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