Your baby’s position in your uterus and pelvis will help determine the type of labour and birth you will have. The position of the baby is significant only in the last few weeks of pregnancy. As the due date approaches, your baby’s head – or bottom – should “engage”. This means they drop into the pelvis in preparation for birth. However, some babies may not engage until labour begins.
The position in which midwives and doctors love to see baby’s head engaged is head-down, face towards your back, and back towards your tummy – or in obstetric terms: “occipito anterior - OA”. In this position the baby is able to flex its head, and the smallest part of the head will come through the pelvis, cervix and vagina first, which is easier on both mum and baby.
Optimal fetal positioning (OFP) was developed by New Zealand midwife Jean Sutton and antenatal teacher Pauline Scott to help encourage a baby into thisbest position for labour.
So during the last six weeks of pregnancy (last three weeks if you have previously given birth) try some of the following:
- When watching TV sit upright in a chair, on a birthing ball, or on the couch, or kneel on the floor leaning over a beanbag, birthing ball or cushions.
- Sit astride a chair that is placed back to front and place your arms on the chair back.
- When resting or sleeping lie on your side with pillows behind your back, and your top leg resting forward so that the knee touches the mattress. This ensures that the abdomen is forward. An extra cushion between the thighs can also be helpful.
- Lying frequently on your left side can also encourage baby into the “left anterior” position, which puts the baby’s spine on the left side of your abdomen.
- Go on all fours –keeping your arms parallel with your upper legs - and rotate or rock your pelvis. Some women even crawl around the house to encourage a turn.
- If possible spend 10-30 minutes a day on all-fours in the last four weeks of pregnancy.
Read an article on Optimal Foetal Positioning extracted from our ebook "From Bump to Birth" in "The Irish Times" http://bit.ly/1sRmGmc . If your baby is breech see our "Tips if your Baby remains in the Breech Position" on this page and the separate "Breech Babies" page on this website.