Before knowing about posterior position and steps to prevent it, it is important for moms to learn about the optimal fetal position. The ideal position for your baby’s birth is the head-down position, with its face towards your back and its head against your abdomen. This position is called occiput anterior (OA)—the baby is perfectly positioned to fit through your pelvis. In contrast to it, in the occiput posterior (OP) position, the baby’s head is still downward, but, now, it faces your abdomen—the back of its head is towards your back.
The OP Position
Mothers carrying babies in this position experience prolonged and painful labors (or back labors). This is because, during birth, the baby has to turn around facing your back. The diameter of the baby’s head that has to pass through the pelvis is 11.5 centimeters as compared to 9.5 centimeters when the baby is in the OA position. In the not-so-good OP position, the baby doesn’t descend down before the labor starts and is more likely to be born post the expected date.
Here are some daily lifestyle habits that you can change to avoid your baby being born in the posterior position. You may start 6 weeks before your due date for the first pregnancy and 3-4 weeks before the due dates of subsequent pregnancies. Don’t be disappointed if the D-day is too close—it is never too late to begin.
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1. Avoid Reclining Positions
Leaning back completely, in armchairs or car seats is certainly a bad idea as it may trigger a change in the baby’s position from anterior to posterior. Put a pillow, probably a wedge cushion, before sitting in the chair while keeping it upright—this will help tilt your pelvis forward.
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2. Keep Your Knees Below Your Pelvis
Always keep your knees below the level of the pelvis while you are sitting. Avoid deep squatting unless you know the baby is in the OA position. If you intend to, then, squat on a low stool with your back straight. Avoid leaning forward.
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3. Swim Belly-Down
If you are keen on swimming during pregnancy, avoid backstrokes. Swim with your belly downwards. Breaststrokes can work for you, but, again, kicking with breaststroke legs may cause the baby to descend in the pelvis. Swim, keeping your legs straight instead of using frog legs movements to swim forward.
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4. Use Birth Ball
A birth ball is helpful for the baby in attaining the better position for birth. Birth balls can be used to reduce back pain during gestation and ease the pain of contractions during labor. Just remember to keep your back straight at all times.
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5. Be Wary Of The Wrong Seating Positions
Your baby may tend to spin towards your abdomen if you follow wrong seating positions. Don’t sit cross-legged or in lotus position as this may reduce the space in the front of the abdomen. Babies need some room in the front to maintain the ideal OA position. Try the tailor pose while sitting—with your soles together, knees facing outwards, and your back upright.
If your baby is already in the posterior positions, here is what you can possibly do.
- Avoid deep squatting. A less interesting thing to do is to crawl on all fours. Instead, clean your floor while on your hands and knees to make it feel purposeful. It can actually urge your baby to turn to the good position.
- Try the knee-to-chest position, better known as the playful puppy pose. Bring your chest close to the floor and raise your bum up in the air. This along with another exercise called the pelvic rocks can provide some space for the baby to turn around.
- Try to be active and keep walking. Your moving around can encourage movement in the baby.
These activities may not show immediate results and need to be performed constantly until the baby turns in the right position. Almost 87% of the babies turn during the labor1. Mothers, don’t get disappointed—some babies turn right away, but it certainly won’t affect vaginal birth. Many normal deliveries happen with babies that are born ‘sunny-side-up’—baby facing up with its head towards the back of the mother.