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Positions please

Many people think that the position in which your baby is lying in the womb is down to good or bad luck and that there’s nothing you can do to change it. But that isn’t always the case. There are things you can do to encourage your baby into the best position so as to help towards a shorter, more straightforward labour later.


Many people think that the position in which your baby is lying in the womb is down to good or bad luck and that there’s nothing you can do to change it. But that isn’t always the case. There are things you can do to encourage your baby into the best position so as to help towards a shorter, more straightforward labour later.

Getting into position

The best position for your baby to be in for birth is head down with her back against your tummy (occiput anterior or OA). It’s not uncommon for babies to face the other way, with their back towards your back (known as occiput posterior or OP). If your baby is in this position, labour can take longer as the baby can’t tuck her chin in very well, which makes it more difficult for your baby to get through your pelvis. Sometimes the baby continues to lie bottom down instead of turning head down – this is known as breech position.

Comfy sofas and low-slung car seats, appears to encourage babies to lie in a posterior position, because if you are reclining backwards then your baby will tend to roll towards that position as well. From about 30 weeks, your midwife should be able to tell you which way your baby is lying but there’s no need to panic if your baby is ‘back to back’ or breech, as there are things you can do which can encourage your baby to turn. If your baby won’t turn before labour starts, carry on doing the forward-leaning and hip-rocking movements during the early part of labour, as these can sometimes still help your baby to turn.

Pelvic floor

You may feel everyone goes on about pelvic floor exercises when you are pregnant. In fact they are worth doing at any time of life, particularly for women. Strong pelvic floor muscles not only help you have an easier birth, they also help to prevent piles and constipation, relieve you of the embarrassment of peeing when you laugh, and improve your sex life. They also support the contents of your abdomen (intestines, bladder and uterus/baby).

Turn, baby, turn

Go for a gentle swim and spend time floating on your front.

Sit on the edge of the sofa or chair with feet apart, belly between your knees, rather than slouching back.

Get onto all fours and rock your hips from side to side. Try doing this when you can feel your baby is awake and active. You might want to do it to music.

When watching TV or chatting to friends, kneel forwards leaning on cushions, a beanbag or a birthing ball with knees apart and bottom down.

Try sitting or kneeling with your knees lower than your hips so as to tip the pelvis into the correct position.

Push your chair slightly away from your desk at work and without hunching your shoulders or tensing your back, rest your elbows on your desk.

Sit on a dining-room chair backwards – astride the seat, facing the back.

Try not to drive for long periods without moving around and keep the seat as upright as possible.

Sit on a birthing ball rather than a sofa when relaxing.

In bed at night try lying on your left side with your right leg over and in front of your left one. A thin pillow between your knees will keep you from rolling around.

Breech Babies

Although most babies do turn in pregnancy, around 3–4% will still be in a breech position – feet or bottom first and head uppermost – by 37 weeks. Some hospitals may routinely offer you a caesarean if your baby does not turn from a breech position. Some will suggest that you try ECV to turn the baby (see below) and some will support women wanting to labour and give birth to a breech baby.

  • You should be offered ECV (external cephalic version). This is when a doctor tries to move your baby into a better position by pushing on your tummy. ECV should not be painful though it may be uncomfortable. If ECV doesn’t work the first time, you can try again a few days later. If your hospital doesn’t offer you ECV, you can ask to be referred to one that does.
  • You may want to ask your hospital if they have midwives who are experienced inbreech birth.

There are still some things you can do to try to turn the baby yourself:

  • When you can feel your baby is awake and active, try kneeling with your elbows on the floor, head down, bottom up.
  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet planted on the floor. Place cushions under your bottom. Do this for 10 minutes, twice a day.
  • Consider complementary therapies. Moxibustion, in which an acupuncturist burns a small stick of mugwort herb near your little toe, has been found by a small study to have a success rate of 70%. Reflexology and homeopathy are also worth trying, but always consult qualified practitioners.

There are three main pelvic floor exercises

Exercise 1
To tighten your pelvic floor, sit or lie in a comfy position with your knees slightly apart. Pull up the muscle s surrounding your back passage, the n pull up towards the front. Hold for a count of four, breathing normally all the time.
When you fee l you can do this exercise easily, try holding for longer count, up to a maximum of 10. Release between each pull up, and repeat 5–6 times.

Exercise 2
Imagine that your pelvic floor is like a lift. Tighten the muscles around the back passage and then around the front. Now tighten a little more as if going up to the first floor, then the second floor. Now gently come back to the ground floor again, making sure you’re breathing normally all the time.

Exercise 3
Try tightening your pelvic floor muscles as quickly as possible, 5–6 times. These are the muscles that contract instantly when you cough, sneeze etc.
Before you cough, sneeze, laugh or pick some thing up, try to take a moment to pick these muscles up.   
Try to do 50 exercises a day, some slow, some fast. It may seem a lot at the beginning, but as you get used to doing them it won’t seem as much.
Find a ‘trigger ’ for repeating the exercises, like every time the phone goes or when you switch on the television.




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