Optimal foetal positioning helping your baby find their way
You might see on your hand held notes some odd abbreviations (actually a lot of them need some deciphering) but in this blog it is the baby’s position I am talking about.
LOA (left occiput Anterior) , LOT (Left Occiput Transverse), ROA (Right Occiput Anterior), ROP (Right Occiput Posterior), ROT (Right Occiput Transverse)
It is talking about where the back of your baby’s head is (occiput) in relation to your body (posterior, anterior or transverse)
Midwives have a wonderful way of being able to gently palpate your stomach and be able to tell how your baby is lying inside you – you can also get some idea from where you feel the kicks from (if you want to know more about this and learn how to feel for your baby this book is invaluable – and available in my book library too)
As a baby is born it rotates down and through the pelvis and ideally is born head down and head facing backwards (all of the body facing backwards !)
If your baby is feet first this is known as breech and if your baby is facing forwards It is known as a posterior presentation (or sunny side up)
Being in the ideal position so head down and facing to the back makes it easier for the baby to rotate, keep it’s chin tucked to enable the narrowest part of the head to move through the pelvis first) and to make full contact with the cervix to enable dilation.
If the baby is facing forwards it has further to turn round as it is born, this could lead to a slower labour, often a more painful labour and felt in your back rather than across your tummy (known as back labour)
Sometimes long and painful Braxton hicks is the result of a baby needing time and help to move round to the optimal position. It is also likely that labour will be slower to start if the baby can’t move into the pelvis to engage correctly.
So what causes your baby to be in a less than ideal position?
Quite simply a slouching position, that lovely comfy ‘TV watching postion’ that is so easy to get into on our soft sofas, and encouraged by car seats, any position where your back is lower than your tummy.
What can I do to prevent it?
Babies can and do turn and move into the ideal position right up to labour and during labour itself. However, it can be reassuring to do everything you can to prepare your body so that your baby is free to move easily as they need to.
This is one of the elements of birth preparation – ensuring your body is strong, relaxed and flexible enough to provide your baby with the right environment to get themselves in the optimal position for a smoother, easier birth.
Here are a few things you can do to help your body to be strong, relaxed and flexible.
· Get out of heeled shoes
· Walk every day
· Untuck your pelvis
· Work on a squat programme (there are various ways to squat; ensuring your pelvis is untucked while you squat is key and for many of us heeled-shoe-wearing-lots-of-sitting people a well thought out squat programme is essential)
· Bolster your pelvis when you sit so you keep you sit on your sitz bones rather than your sacrum
· Release tension in your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and psoas
· Strengthen your quads and hamstrings
· Strengthen your transverse abdominals
A good pregnancy exercise programme will help you understand the geometry of your own body, so you know where you are tight and tense and how to release and lengthen those areas and which areas need strengthening.
It will be based around a programme that is designed to specifically prepare you for birth. And it will help you with lifestyle changes so you are lengthening, strengthening and releasing throughout your day – which is much more beneficial than just an exercise session.
If you are later on in your pregnancy and find your baby needs to move then don’t despair there are still lots of things you can do
· Book an osteopath appointment to help with releasing any tightness
· Do an inversion everyday (such as an inverted V or downward facing dog or this one from Spinning Babies)
· Practice circling your pelvis to help keep it mobile
· Walk more
· Sit less (sit bolstered)
· Incorporate calf stretches as much as you can into your day
· Find ways to help yourself relax – getting stressed and tense won’t help – find something that helps you to relax whether that be meditations, massage, dancing, drawing/painting…..
Rosie Dhoopun is a Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Specialist, Pilates Teacher, Movement Teacher, Massage Therapist, Antenatal Teacher, Pregnancy Coach, Baby and Toddler Massage and Yoga Teacher.