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OPTIMAL FETAL POSITION

Due to the slight asymmetry of the uterus and the shape of the pelvis, baby's position when they are head down can greatly affect your labor and baby's ability to descend and move through the pelvis. The easiest position for baby to descend is known as occiput anterior, or OA, which means baby is:

 

  • Head down

  • Facing your back

  • With their back on one side of the front of your tummy

  • Tucking their chin

  • With the smallest part of their head applied to the cervix

 

In the OA position, baby can either be on the left side (LOA) or right (ROA). Left is best. When baby is LOA, you'll feel the firmness of baby's back on the left side of your belly, the bulge of their butt up by your left ribs, kicks under the right side of your ribs or over by your right hip bone, and baby's heart beat will be strongest on the lower left side of your pelvis. 

Conversely, baby can be occiput posterior, or OP. OP babies are still head down, but are facing your front instead of your back. The first and second stages of labor with OP babies tend to be longer and more painful, with persistent back pain. OP babies have further to turn to enter the pelvis and cannot fully tuck their chin. As a result, the diameter of the head as it comes through the pelvis is greater, which can make things more difficult.

 

The good new is that in general, babies want to be in the optimal position as it makes labor easier on them. The bad news is that sometimes our bodies are out of whack for whatever reason and baby can’t necessarily get to that good position. That said, there are a few things you can do now to encourage great positioning and take steps toward an easier labor. Spinning Babies is chock-full of information on fetal positioning. They know their stuff and their daily activities really help get your body into alignment for labor. The activities are designed to stretch, balance, and align the muscles surrounding your baby so that they can nestle on in there in an OA position.

 

3 THINGS TO DO EVERY DAY:

  • Rest smart

    • Think of your belly as a hammock, and let your baby lie with their back settling into the hammock

    • Think of your belly button as a flashlight and always try to keep the flashlight pointed forward or downward when you are resting, not upward

    • When lying on your side, use pillows to maintain alignment and support your belly, knees, and ankles

    • Avoid recliners

  • Cat/cow pelvic tilts

    • 20-40 per day

    • Get into hands and knees position and flatten your back, then lift, then flatten again.

  • Ball sitting

    • Get an exercise ball. As a general rule, if you’re 5’8” or below in height, it's best to get a 65cm ball. If you’re 5’9” or taller, then it's best to get a 75cm ball.

    • Sit with knees lower than the level of your hips, and lean forward to allow your belly to be lower than your hips

    • Let your belly be a hammock for your baby

 

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