Optimal baby positioning. Doesn’t sound sexy does it? But when it comes to giving birth, the position your baby starts in can make the difference between a speedy 3 hour home birth or a C-section.
The optimum position for a baby before delivery is Left Occiput Anterior (LOA) which means head is down, baby’s spine is outwards (towards mummy’s navel) and baby’s back and body are on the left side of mum. In this position baby can apply pressure to the cervix, which helps stimulate contractions and with its chin tucked in, has the easiest exit through mum’s pelvis and the birth canal.
What can go wrong?
Baby’s can get themselves into tight spots. Breech (bum down), tranverse (lying across mum’s abdomen) or back to back, where baby is lying spine to spine can all cause issues when it comes to delivery.
What can mum do?
During pregnancy consider the following:
Stay active … it’s thought that a sedentary, seated lifestyle is one of the leading contributory factors to the increased number of back to back presentations before labour.
Avoid sitting for long periods in comfy chairs or long car journeys, especially after week 35. Aim to have your hips higher than your knees, or sit on a high and firm chair.
Classes like Pilates and Yoga where instructors know tricks for getting your baby into position for birth are fantastic. Especially if you have a stubborn baby who doesn’t seem to want to move.
Lie on your left side in bed. This is not only the best position for your circulation but also to encourage baby’s body to the left. If you put a chunky pillow between your legs you can also get your tummy facing left and downwards to further encourage baby to move.
What if baby is not in LOA presentation?
Even if your baby has got themselves into a less than optimal position, there is still lots mum can do to fix it.
Don’t panic! I’ve known babies to move after a class or even immediately before a planned C-section, enabling mum to deliver naturally. Sometimes babies leave it until the last moment to get themselves ready for the exit.
Work with gravity … baby’s head and body are its heaviest components. Use gravity to encourage baby towards an LOA position. Consider swimming, getting on all fours or any forward posture where your hips are higher than your knees. I often get my participants to get on all fours and gently swing hips from side to side or in circles, this is nice on the back and also great for gentle pelvis mobility.
Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.