23 May 2014

Tips for Getting Baby In The Right Position For Labour

Or... how to avoid having a breech baby for the second time... is what i will call this post! If you have had a breech baby like me, then chances are you already know that the likelihood of having another is fairly high ( 3 fold in second pregnancy and 14 fold in a third pregnancy )

However, a lot of people don't know that breech isn't the only position that can cause problems for your labour. As a Doula I have been with several moms in the delivery room whose babies were not in the ideal position and endured quite long and (more) painful labours.

Many moms will recognize they are experiencing "back labour", which is extremely tense back pain during contractions. But most may not realize that their back labour could be the result of the baby's position. It is thought that babies in a posterior position may cause back labour, and there are many things you can do both in pregnancy and during labour to help to change baby's position.

Firstly, lets look at all of the positions a baby can get themselves into in there! And then we will talk about how to encourage baby into the best position possible.

Photo source- Spinning Babies

The first letter refers to the side of the mother that the baby is lying on, 'R' is right, and 'L' is Left.
The second letter 'O' in most of these refers to "occiput" which is the part of the baby's head that is presenting.
And the third letter refers to the position of the baby 'A' is anterior (babys back toward the mothers belly) and 'P' is posterior (babys back toward the mothers back).

Of course there are also three types of breech (frank, complete, and footling) but usually those aren't as important because if your baby is breech... well... its breech.

The Spinning Babies website is a site devoted to "optimal fetal positioning" and is chock full of information. It's not just about flipping a breech but they believe that having your baby in the 'optimal' position can mean you will have an easier labour... and I think we are all for that am I right ladies!

According to those who encourage fetal positioning during pregnancy, the best 'lie' for your baby before birth is LOA or OA as seen above. This will allow the best chance for the baby to 'rotate' as they need to during labour to make the most out of your contractions (ie: not having a super long labour!)

Some things you can do to encourage your baby into these positions during pregnancy are:

* I am no professional in these things, however would never share something that would cause you or your baby harm. All info is from my own research and personal experience, and is low risk * 

"Resting Smart"- We all know that lying on your back isn't great for baby later in pregnancy, but how you rest can also come into play with how your baby is positioned. You should always sleep on your left side, spinning babies encourages to tilt your belly button toward the bed as much as you can do so comfortably. When sitting try to tilt your pelvis forward, rather than having it tipped back. They also encourage; * Knees lower than the level of our hips * Belly lower than your hips * Let your belly be a hammock for your baby. * Let your lower back sway forward as you stand and walk. 

I'm pretty terrible at this. I'm constantly lounging, but I'm trying to be more conscious of how I'm sitting and lying. 

Pilates- This is totally my own advice but I believe the principles of Pilates really promote proper positioning during pregnancy. Pilates is all about balance and getting your body aligned. Unlike Yoga,  (im not down on yoga though, don't get me wrong) Pilates encourages constant awareness of your 'core' muscles and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles... pretty key for labour. Specific moves like the 'hip release' can really encourage baby into the right position, and are also used by midwives and doulas. I would only advise doing Pilates in a class with a professional pilates instructor. DVD's and youtube videos are nice but there is a lot to be said for attending a pre-natal pilates class. 

Swimming/Walking: Swimming and walking are both awesome ways not only to keep fit during pregnancy but also encourage the best fetal positioning as well because of their use of gravity. Women who are sitting for the majority of the day throughout their pregnancy are more likely to have a poor fetal position because their pelvis is tipped back for most the of day (source here). 

All Fours: Getting down onto the floor on your hands and knees for 10 minutes per day is also thought to encourage baby's heaviest part, the back, to settle toward your stomach, also known as your hammock. 

Inversions: Inversions are short bursts of leaning forward onto the floor while your bum is raised. This looks like kneeling on the couch and then touching the floor with your head or resting on your forearms. Inversions are used for breech babies but also to get baby into the best position possible. Consult your doctor before doing inversions on a regular basis. Right now at 32 weeks I do these every day at least once... if I remember!... because I have had a previous breech baby. So far my OB thinks baby girl is head down! 

There are lots of other ways to get your baby into the right position for labour, but these are the most 'natural' to do, as in you are probably already doing most of them without thinking about it. Most babies will get themselves into the proper position if you are active during pregnancy and haven't previously had any problems such as back or hip injuries, which could cause your ligaments to be tight in those areas. 

Hopefully this is helpful. These tips are in no way a professional opinion as I mentioned, but are more along the lines of common sense and awareness of your body. 


  1. This is a great article! My first was posterior, and it was SO painful and long of a labor!
    With my second I made sure to be extremely vigilant about keeping my hips above my knees- no recliner, sitting up straight, etc. Sure enough, he was positioned normally and the labor was so much less intense.
    With my 3rd, I was so tired all the time and couldn't sleep though much of the pregnancy due to such back heartburn. Due to this, I spent a lot of time attempting to sleep in the recliner... and had another posterior baby. So I would definitely recommend that mamas-to-be be vigilant--- it is worth it!

  2. Great advice! Baby girl was head down again at my appointment last week but I want to keep her that way!

  3. Really interesting!! Thank you for sharing your experience Jamie! I am definitely a firm believer in it and I think doing everything you can to get baby in the best position possible will make it easier in the end. However it is pretty tough to do when all you want to do is just lay down and not care about where your darn belly is! :)

  4. Good to hear Whitney!! Yay can't believe we are both getting so close to meeting our girls!! :)


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