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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting Your Baby Into Position

While my 9 year old and 7 year old were in their swim lessons at the YMCA today, I was sitting on the bleachers reading a copy Optimal Foetal Positioning that I have out on loan from the Syracuse ICAN chapter. A lot of it was things that I'd heard before, having taken the Bradley childbirth classes when I was pregnant with my second.

One thing I hadn't remembered though, was that the cervix actually needs to open wider than 10cm to properly accomodate a posterior baby. With an anterior baby (facing mom's spine) the presenting part of the baby's head is 9.5cm and with a posterior baby (facing mom's front), the presenting part of the head that needs to get through the cervix is 11.5cm. Now, a cervix can and will stretch much more than the 10cm that we hear about in the childbirth classes, but it sounds to me like this may be one of the reasons that pushing out a posterior baby can take more time.

Additionally, moms who go into labor with a posterior baby often report having increased back pain, known as "back labor." This can be a challenge to cope with.

Optimal Foetal Positioning talks a lot about posture and the fact that how we go about our daily routines, things like the way we sit and the kinds of furniture we use, can affect the positions of the babies we carry.

The following video clip talks about what moms can do during pregnancy (before labor begins) to encourage their baby into an anterior postition:

During pregnancy, I'd also recommend that moms see a chiropractor who is trained in and experienced with the Webster technique. The ICPA has this to say:  "The Webster Technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment that reduces interference to the nerve system and balances maternal pelvic muscles and ligaments. This in turn reduces torsion in the uterus, a cause of intra-uterine constraint of the baby and allows for optimal fetal positioning in preparation for birth."

If you are in labor and find that your baby is posterior, there are things you can do to encourage him or her to get into a better postion:

  • Walk up and down stairs, sideways if possible
  • Try an Abdominal Lift during contractions
  • Do chair lunges (with a partner for support)
  • Lean forward over a birth ball
  • Sit on the toilet with one foot raised on a stool
One reason to have a doula, both during the actual labor and talking to your doula in the weeks leading up to birth, is that a well-educated doula will have this information. She can offer you information on getting your baby into the best position for birth before you actually go into labor and she can help you work with your body while you're in labor so that you're using the most effective positions to help your baby descend through the birth canal.

If you're in Syracuse, New York or nearby and have questions about how a doula can help you, feel free to email me at

- Liz Baer

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