This blog is written by Aliza Carr from Bumpnbub.
Nearing the end of your pregnancy, you will have frequent appointments with your healthcare provider, where they will assess you and your baby. Part of this assessment is palpating your stomach to determine which position your baby is in, if the presenting part is in the pelvis, and checking on bub’s heart rate. Your healthcare provider will also be able to indicate if they think your baby is in an anterior or posterior position.
- What is an anterior position?
When your baby has their back along the front of your stomach, and they enter the pelvis facing towards your back. This is the most desired position for labour and birth because your baby’s head will be applying even pressure on the cervix, which will help labour to progress. In this position, the smallest diameter of bub’s head will come out first during birth.
- What is a posterior position?
When bub’s back is along your back, referred to as spine-to-spine, so their head is facing towards your front. This is directly opposite to an anterior position. When bub is in this position, the diameter of their head that presents first during birth is larger, and their chin is not tucked down on their chest. Therefore it can be more challenging in the pushing phase, but babies can still be born in this position.
If your baby is in a posterior position in the last stages of pregnancy, they can move into an anterior position on their own, but there are also some movements you can do to encourage them to obtain this position.
- Swimming during pregnancy can help bub move positions due to the buoyancy.
- Adopt forward-leaning positions in your everyday life. Slouching back or lying on your back will decrease the likelihood bub will move into an anterior position. Try sitting on your birth ball, kneeling and leaning over the birth ball, sitting forwards on the couch or even leaning over the back of the couch or chair.
- Optimal fetal positioning movements can be researched online for more information regarding helping bub into a good position for labour. Spinning Babies website is a great resource that explains positions to do in pregnancy and labour to assist your posterior baby change positions.
- What does a posterior position mean for you in labour?
When your baby is in a posterior position during labour, you can have what is referred to as a ‘back labour’ due to the back pain you will most likely experience. In a posterior position, your baby’s head puts more pressure on your coccyx (the end of your spine), which can cause severe back pain. If you experience this back pain, it is important to talk to your midwife. They will encourage you to obtain different positions to assist bub to move into an optimal position. Your baby will most likely adopt an anterior position at some point during your labour, with movement and strong contractions helping bub to rotate.
Examples below of what you can try in labour if your baby is posterior, or you have back pain:
- Positions to try: leaning forward over the bed or in an all-fours position, side lunges, dancing, stair climbs, and squats will all assist bub to rotate forward
- Equipment to use: a birth stool, sitting on the toilet helps to widen your pelvis, and a peanut ball can be used if you need a rest or with an epidural
- Non-pharmacological analgesia: sterile water injections can provide amazing relief for back pain, a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine and warm water in the shower or bath can provide relief for you
- Pharmacological analgesia: a narcotic injection such as morphine can be used in early labour, nitrous oxide gas can take the edge off your contractions throughout labour, or an epidural which will make your entire abdomen numb. You will have to remain in bed after an epidural, so it is highly recommended to use a peanut ball and move regularly in the bed to encourage bub to rotate positions.
This blog is general advice only and does not replace the need for medical advice. For any questions or concerns, contact your healthcare provider.