Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Overview of the last few weeks of pregnancy

So by now, you should hopefully know that human pregnancy is typically 40 weeks (I would advise against publicly expressing your surprise if this is news to you). Term is when it is the safest time for baby to come and this is at 37 weeks and after. It is common for women to go over their due date, especially first time mothers. Your physician will likely induce you when you hit 42 weeks at the latest as complication tend to arise 1-2 weeks post due date.

Now let’s talk about baby and how we all cross our fingers for them to be in the ideal position. There are many ways the baby can present, but I'm just covering four common presentations.

The ideal position is called occiput anterior position. If you are the baby, your face is facing mom’s spine and your back is against mom’s belly and the body is slightly rotated to the right or left. This is preferred because the smallest part of the head exits first and it allows the baby to arch his/her neck when exiting the birth canal. This is the most common position for baby to be in as well, though as I will share next, they don’t always cooperate.

Occiput posterior position, or facing “posterior” or endearingly “sunny-side up,” is when the baby is turned around and facing up. Baby’s face is toward mom’s abdomen and the back is toward mom’s spine. This position is harder on mom because of increased back labor (more pressure/pain in your low back during contractions as baby is pushing against your low back) and also harder on baby because there is limited flexibility on the neck. Your provider will likely try to turn the baby around and your provider may use an assistive device like forceps or a vacuum (yes, a vacuum. But not for carpet :) We'll cover more on assistive devices on the next post) to help baby come out.

frank breech position

Many of you have heard of breech. There are a number of different breech positions. Some babies look like they’re sitting cross-legged on top of your cervix, some appear to folded in half like they are touching their toes and their bum is presenting instead. There could be one foot ready to present first or there can be a combination of any of these. Contrary to popular belief, you can deliver certain types of breech babies, but it is often recommended to go with a c-section instead as it is safer and there is less chance of injury to baby’s head and neck.

Transverse is when the baby is lying horizontally in your uterus instead of with the head presenting. As with other non-ideal positions, your provider will attempt to rotate the baby prior to labor, but if labor has begun, a c-section is most likely because the baby would not be able to be delivered this way.

There is a website called Spinning Babies which is dedicated to different techniques of either making sure baby is in the right position for birth or flipping the baby around the right way on your own if you know they are not in the ideal position. I cannot personally say I have used any of these techniques as I didn't know my son was facing posterior until I was in labor and my daughter was facing anterior, but I know several moms who swear by the suggested techniques.

Remember, a successful childbirth is not strictly following your birth plan- be aware of your options, know that things can change last minute, and do what is best for you and baby!

Coming Up Next Week: Birthing positions and expectations of a normal vaginal delivery

* pictures courtesy of and

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