by Michele Gee
As a woman who endured 2 back labors myself, I know first hand just how painful and unrelenting those contractions often are. Personally, I feel it is important to give pregnant women every possible opportunity to avoid starting labor with a posterior baby. Some women birth posterior babies without any back labor but generally, with a posterior baby, labor tends to last longer, be more painful, and results in a higher rate of Cesarean – so why wouldn’t we do all that we can to try to change the babies position? Obviously, just as with breech babies, sometimes there is absolutely nothing we can do to change the position – perhaps there is a reason the baby is choosing the posterior position? It is best to be aware and proactive but try not to be fearful.
A posterior position simply means that instead of the baby’s face facing the mother’s sacrum, the back of the baby’s head is pressing against the sacrum, which typically causes contractions to be irregular and concentrated in the lower back. A classic sign of posterior labor is when the mother is unable to rest between contractions because the pain never seems to subside completely. She can be distraught with the discomfort and nothing seems to help.
There isn’t enough research to determine the exact reason why so many women end up with back labor (15-30%). It is thought that our sedentary life style contributes to a more common posterior presentation. We do a lot of sitting – at a desk, driving cars, on the couch, eating meals at a table – and it becomes easier for the heaviest part of the baby – the back – to drift toward the back of the mother as she reclines. A baby can get quite comfortable in this position making it hard to reposition once labor starts.
Just as there are interventions to change the position of a breech baby and avoid a potential Cesarean birth, there are also ways to shift a posterior baby into a more optimal position. Here are 8 things you can do prenatally if you suspect a posterior baby:
- Pelvic tilts – check out Spinning Babies to learn how to do a pelvic tilt: http://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/techniques/other-techniques/pelvic-tilt/
- Talk to your baby and ask her to rotate!
- Keep your hips higher than your knees and try to lean forward more than recline. If you need to recline, try lying on your left side.
- Do the Miles Circuit starting at 37 weeks – 3 positions to help your baby rotate: http://www.milescircuit.com/
- Try belly dancing – all of the hip opening moves will help make room for baby to turn
- Go swimming – do the breast stroke. Being in the water will decrease gravity allowing more space for baby
- Go to prenatal yoga classes and stretch regularly keeping the hips pliable
- Do nothing! Most posterior babies will eventually find their way into the birth canal and some are even born sunny-side-up! Every baby has his own way of making it into the world and we never can predict what that story will be, so stay open to every possibility.