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Fetal Presentation – What Position Is Best?

posterior baby

At my very first prenatal yoga class, a soon-to-be mom was concerned about her baby being breech.  She wanted to try different positions to turn the baby and was looking for advice.  While our instructor suggested a few things she also brought up a good point.  Babies don’t just go into an un-preferred position for labor for the heck of it.  They might be there because it feels safe and to always remember that regardless what kind of delivery you have, you’ll be happiest with a healthy baby in the end. Since then, I’ve always been curious to know how our little man is laying inside my belly.

Of course I’d heard that a breech baby most often ended with a c-section but I hadn’t thought much about whether it made a difference if the baby was facing to the front or facing to the back.  A face down baby or anterior position, with the baby’s back facing your front, is the preferred presentation for labor.  The posterior position, while still possible for a vaginal delivery, is not the best.  Back in the beginning of April, it occurred to me that my baby boy is most likely laying in a posterior position, or “sunny side up”.  It made sense to why I see so much movement at the front of my belly and why I could never seem to find his back.  At one point he flipped and seemed to be presenting in a left occiput anterior position, which is often considered the easiest fetal position for the start of labor but I think he’s flipped back to posterior, with his back to my back.  Not so settling being 39 weeks pregnant and literally about to pop!

According to BabyCenter.com, “Mothers who’s babies are face-up at birth tend to push longer, more commonly need Pitocin to stimulate contractions, and have a significantly higher risk of having an assisted vaginal delivery or a c-section… and those who do deliver vaginally are are more likely to have an episiotomy and severe perineal tears.” While that’s not the most comforting thing to read, thankfully from what I’ve read and heard from other moms, babies often turn right before or during labor.  Plus, there are many moms out there who have successfully delivered “sunny side up” babies with no problems so I’m not letting myself get too worried.  However, I have been spending lots of time on my hands and knees and I’m trying to avoid all reclining positions as much as possible.

What have you heard about the fetal positions in labor?

{image from mayoclinic}

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