This is a post in my series on owning your birth. It is my strong belief that your birth experience profoundly impacts your early days with your new child. The way you feel while birthing your baby can inform how you feel about yourself as a person, mother, and partner. If you feel respected, strong, and supported during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you will improve your chances of beginning your mothering journey with confidence and hope. If you feel disrespected, controlled, or unheard during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you may enter your mothering journey with fear and sadness.
Birth is normal and breathtakingly beautiful. But it is also mysterious and unknown, sometimes overwhelming and scary. With any labor and delivery, you can have an experience that is woman- and mother-centered. Feeling respected and heard, and experiencing your own strength and power during birth, comes down to owning the experience, even in its uncertainty. And often still, things won’t go as you expected. If you are surprised, overwhelmed, or sad about your birth experience, you will be better able to confront it and work through it if you feel prepared, strong, and confident enough to reach out for support.
You cannot plan your birth. Birth will takes its own course and we do best when we can let birth happen. But birth can happen best when we are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at our best. In this series, I’ll share ideas about what you can do to own your birth experience.
Own Your Birth Part 8 of 24:
Encourage your baby into an optimal position
When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t even know that optimal fetal positioning was something I should think about. I didn’t know there was a “best” way for my baby to be positioned in my womb and I certainly didn’t know that I might be able to encourage him to get there. Now I know that there are some variations of a vertex (head down) baby that are less favorable in late pregnancy and there are things you can do to encourage your baby to be optimally positioned in your womb.
Why does my baby’s position matter?
You might be wondering why you should even care about this. An optimally positioned baby can help you have an easier, and less painful labor. The optimal position for a baby is anterior. Anterior means that the baby is head down, with his or her back and back of the head against your tummy. This position is favorable because the top of baby’s head will put even pressure on your cervix during labor, helping it open and release important labor hormones. Also, the smallest part of baby’s head will be born first, allowing for a more gentle birth. Furthermore, a posterior baby (baby’s face and tummy are against your tummy) can push against your back during labor, leading to much more painful contractions felt mostly in your back and often a longer and harder pushing stage. While some women may not experience posterior labor as especially challenging, it’s absolutely worth it to do what you can to encourage your baby into an anterior position for labor and delivery.
Encourage optimal positioning during pregnancy
The best thing you can do during pregnancy is to focus on resting in positions that keep your womb balanced so that your baby can naturally move to the typical, optimal anterior position. When you are sitting, you’ll want to focus on sitting with your hips higher than your knees. This means that you’ll want to try not to recline backwards into the couch or your chair. You can do this by sitting backwards on chair, sitting on the floor on a pillow, or sitting on a big birth ball. Also, when you sleep at night, sleep on your side instead of your back.
Encourage a posterior baby to get anterior during late pregnancy
Sometimes your OB or midwife can tell by feeling your belly if your baby is posterior. If you have any late pregnancy ultrasounds, you can learn how your baby is positioned. Also, you might try to do some belly mapping to figure it out for yourself. Below are some things you can do to encourage balance and optimal positioning. Please check with your care provider to be sure that these exercises are safe for you.
- Focus on using the resting positions described above
- Do squats or supported squats with your back against a wall, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor
- Go onto your hands and knees for short intervals of time each day
- Try forward-learning inversions
- Do a forward-learning inversion each day
- Find a chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique
Encourage a posterior baby to get anterior during labor
Many posterior babies will turn during labor to an anterior position. If you are experiencing posterior labor, there are some things you can try to help relieve back pain and to encourage baby to rotate. Your nurse, midwife, OB, and doula might be great resources to help you with different positioning and techniques. Again, always check with your care provider first. Here are a few ideas:
- Do lunges to the side that feels more comfortable
- Go onto your hands and knees
- Lean forward during contractions
- Do squats
- Rest on your side if you’re resting
- Avoid an epidural earlier in labor
If you’re concerned at all about fetal positioning, or you just want to learn more, check out the Spinning Babies website!
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