When I was younger, I vividly recall how my mum would tell me to place a hand in her tummy to feel the movement of younger siblings a few months before they were born. It was something I always looked forward to doing whenever she was pregnant, and it made me wonder if those movements meant that the baby was changing positions and if the position change meant different things.
From the beginning of the second trimester into the early third trimester of pregnancy, you might feel a lot of kicking, wiggling, and your baby may sometimes engage in twists and turns.
By the ninth month of your pregnancy, the child must have become really big and had less room for all those movements. As your due date approaches, the position of your baby becomes more vital. The reason it is essential is that your baby has to assume a good position that will aid delivery. Your doctor must continuously check the position of your child in the womb mostly during this last month.
As you read on, some of the things you will learn include the meaning of the terms transverse, anterior, breech, and posterior often used by doctors to describe the position of a baby in the womb. Another thing you will learn from this write-up is what steps to take if your baby isn’t in the right position before your due date.
What is an anterior position?
When the doctor says a baby is in an anterior position, it means that the child’s head is down and its face is looking at your back. The baby has its chin tucked into its chest sync its head is set to go through the mother’s pelvis.
The baby has the ability to flex its neck and head as well as tuck its chin into its chest. This pain is usually referred to as the cephalic presentation or occipito-anterior.
The narrow part of the child’s head can press on the mother’s cervix this helping it to open during delivery. Majority of babies would generally assume this position between the 33rd – 36th week of pregnancy and this position is not only the ideal but also the safest position for a child’s delivery.
What is the Posterior?
In the posterior position, the child’s head is facing down, but its face is looking towards the mother’s stomach instead of towards her back. This kind of child position is referred to as the heartbeat-posterior (OP) position.
Most of the time in the first stage of labour, about one-tenth to one-third of babies, assume this position, but most of these babies end up spontaneously turning the right direction before they are born. However, there are cases where the babies do not readjust to the anterior position and remaining in this position until they’re delivered.
A child in this position would increase the chances of the mother having prolonged delivery and also experiencing severe back pain. Most doctors make sure an epidural is available to help ease some of the pain during childbirth.
What is the breech position?
When a doctor says, a baby is breached it means that the baby is positioned straight up with its butt and feet facing down.
Three positions represent a breech.
1. A complete breech: In a complete breech, the child’s buttocks and pointed towards the birth canal with its legs folded at the knees and feet close to the buttocks
2. A frank breech: In a frank breech the baby’s buttocks are towards the birth canal, but its legs are straight in front of it positioning its feet near the head.
3. A footing breech: when there is a footing breach it means that one or both of the child’s feet are pointing towards the birth canal.
A breech position is not in any way ideal for childbirth although most children born in breech positions are healthy. However, they stand a higher risk of experiencing trauma during birth and also defects.
While in a normal birth the child’s head is the first to emerge through the vaginal canal, in a breech birth the head appears last which makes it difficult for the body to pass through the canal. The breech position can also be very problematic because it increases the chance of creating a loop in the child’s umbilical cord and that could potentially cause an injury to the child if it is delivered vaginally.
If your doctor detects the breech at an early stage, he or she would most possibly prescribe tips on how to help turn your baby in the right direction before your due date. Among the techniques available for turning children in breech positions, there is one most doctor prefers and it backward as an external cephalic version (ECV).
The external cephalic version involves the application of pressure to the mother’s abdomen. Although the mother may feel uncomfortable, this procedure is not dangerous in any way. Also while the procedure is ongoing, the doctor will make sure to pay close attention to the baby’s heartbeat and stop immediately he or she senses any problems.
About half the time people have used the external cephalic version technique to turn a breeched child, it was successful. However, if the ECV doesn’t work for you, the doctors would suggest that you undergo a cesarean session to help bring out the baby.
Such is usually the situation with a footling breech. In such cases, there is the possibility of the child’s umbilical cord squeezing as it struggles to pass through the birth canal and this would ultimately cut off oxygen and blood supply.
What is the transverse lie position?
The transverse lie position means that the baby is lying horizontally in the mother’s uterus. This position is scarce at delivery because most babies would automatically turn themselves face down before the due date.
However, if a doctor notice if a child has used this position before delivery he would have no choice but to carry out a cesarean section for the mother. The reason there will be the need for a cesarean section is that there is a high chance of the umbilical cord prolapsing.
Which means the umbilical cord might come out before the child when the mother’s water breaks. Umbilical cord prolapse is always considered an emergency, and a Next section must be carried out immediately.
If you want to track your baby’s position before delivery, it is very possible through belly marking which usually begins at eight months.
The equipment required is a door which will be used to visualise or mimic your baby’s position in the womb and a washable marker for marking. The best time to do a daily market is immediately after you leave a section with your doctor this way you can easily tell if your baby’s head is facing the right direction.
Belly marking steps
To engage in belly marking lie down on your bed and put your hand on your abdomen trying to feel for your baby’s head. The child’s head usually feels like a mini ball so once you spot it, mark it on your belly. If you have a fetoscope or during an ultrasound, look for the spot of your baby’s heartbeat and mark it on your tummy.
Next, you have to locate your baby’s butt. It is usually round and hard so when you spot it, make a mark on your stomach then play around different positions with the doll based on the markings.
Can I turn my baby?
Although it is expected that all babies position themselves correctly before their mother goes into labour, there at times when your baby might not do that. So it is vital for you to know your child’s position before your due date because the exact position of a baby in the womb could lead to some complications during delivery. Nevertheless, there are a few methods you can use to coerce your unborn child into staying in the right position.
- Spend some time every day sitting on an exercise ball or a birth ball
- When you’re sitting down make sure to tilt your pelvis forward instead of tipping it backwards.
- If your job requires you to sit for an extended period, ensure to take breaks by walking around from time to time.
- Make sure you always sit in a position that allows your hips to be higher than your knees every time.
- Get on your knees and hands up to four times if possible for a few minutes daily. This would help adjust your baby to an anterior position.
- If you drive, do make sure to add a cushion to the driver’s seat so that you are seated up high, and you can tilt your bottom forward.
If you try out all of these tips and it still doesn’t help to position your baby, it may be as a result of the shape of your pelvis rather than your posture. And a cesarean delivery may become necessary in this case.
As a pregnant mother, it is essential that you feed well, relax as much as possible, and also exercise so that you are fit enough for childbirth. Also, it is vital to stay positive and worry less. Not until the 8th and 9th month of your pregnancy you can be relaxed about the position of your baby as he or she will most likely be in an anterior position before delivery.