fetal presentation

at my very first prenatal yoga class, a soon-to-be mom was concerned about her baby being breech.  she wanted to try different positions to turn the baby and was looking for advice.  while our instructor suggested a few things she also brought up a good point.  babies don’t just go into an un-preferred position for labor for the heck of it.  they might be there because it feels safe and to always remember that regardless what kind of delivery you have, you’ll be happiest with a healthy baby in the end.

for the past week I’ve been trying to determine how our little man is laying inside my belly.  last night it finally occurred to me that he is most likely laying in a posterior position, or “sunny side up”.  it makes sense to why I see so much movement at the front of my belly and why I can’t ever seem to find his back.  it’s why I feel little feet under my right rib cage and little shoulders and hands to the left of my belly button.  and it makes sense why my back has been so sore and I’ve felt slightly out of breath while reclining.  {side note: I think he’s been posterior for at least 3 weeks now}

a face down baby or anterior position, with his back facing my front, is the preferred presentation for labor and the posterior position, while still possible for a vaginal delivery, is not the best.  “mothers whose babies are face-up at birth tend to push longer, more commonly need Pitocin to stimulate contractions, and have a significantly higher risk of having an assisted vaginal delivery or a c-section… and those who do deliver vaginally are are more likely to have an episiotomy and severe perineal tears.”  aye yai eye!

what have you heard about the posterior position in labor?  anyone have experience?  I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject and found some great info at Spinning Babies but I’m waiting to see what my doula or doctor could confirm details about when the babies settle into their final position.  I know I’m still 7 weeks from my guess date and the little man can still turn, but I’m also a little concerned.  plus I figure if there is something I can do now, why not try it?


  1. 28


    jamie said:

    my understanding is that it is not much to worry about, as they often turn during labor. it is not *ideal* as it takes them longer to turn during labor, but still.

    • 28


      alyson said:

      that’s what I keep reading but it’s totally not assuring. sigh…

      • 29


        shelby rice said:

        I can confirm that this is indeed true. I am a doula and an RN and have seen this seriously tons. From my experience, posterior positioned babies almost always turn during labor or even beginning of pushing.

  2. 28


    Monica S. said:

    Nina was posterior for weeks then one day (I will NEVER as long as I live forget what this felt like) while I was laying on my side napping, she completely flipped over and dropped her little head into the “ready to launch” position. I thought she was low before, but holy cow!!! It was then I felt like I could give birth at any moment, even though it was a month before her due date. Sure enough, she came a week later. It was the most BIZARRE sensation of having something that large do a 180 in my belly, but I’m glad she did! Just relax and know that baby will go where he is happiest, and sooner or later, that means out!!

  3. 28


    Not that I know what I’m talking about…but I have heard that the baby will turn in that last week or so.

    Our doctor said that our baby was face down and sideways, which still boded for a c-section, if he/she doesn’t turn un-sideways. He said I could come in and get an epidural that last week and he could move the baby himself…like lay hands upon and turn himself. Cringe. But I’d almost rather do that than have a c-section. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m just hoping baby turns by itself.

  4. 28


    taryn said:

    i’m 37 weeks and for some reason fetal presentation doesn’t bother me at all. i just trust that my body and my baby will know what to do when the time comes. according to my doctor it might make for some more painful labouring but the baby should turn on its own when the time is right. and, supposedly, your body will sort of tell you how to help the baby move – i guess certain positions are more comfortable for a reason.

  5. 28


    franny.glass said:

    Rbaby was sunny side up (mostly, though he was sort of cocked sideways) and my sister just delivered one of her twins sunny side up so… it can be done! it is true that i pushed for a long time and also had an episiotomy, but i made it with no drugs nonetheless.

    i’ve heard they frequently turn from this position during labor. my midwife spent a LOT of time trying to turn him while i pushed.

  6. 28


    nole said:

    My brother and I both came out sunny side up, and my mother delivered us naturally – no c-sections. My mom has told me that the labor was long and perhaps a bit more painful than it would have been if I had been facing down, but to my knowledge she didn’t have an episiotomy or any other complications from either delivery. I hope that helps!

  7. 28


    Jenny said:

    I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for several months and I made sure to find one who is “Webster certified.” They receive training on prenatal care and ways to turn breech babies. Here is the link I used to find one: http://icpa4kids.org/Find-a-Chiropractor/

    Good luck!

  8. 28


    Elizabeth said:

    I’ve also heard good things about the Webster method. My baby-to-be is breech so I’m trying out a million spinning babies tricks too — downward dog, bridge pose, laying on an ironing board over the couch (not joking), frozen peas on tummy — I’m hopeful it all works out.

  9. 28


    Kristine said:

    Our first child was born posterior (and weighed 10 lb 1 oz, no less). I think it was a surprise to the midwives I was able to deliver him naturally. Anyway, I went on to have three more so it wasn’t that bad. I think one or two of our other babies may have been in the posterior position at the time I went into hospital to be induced. But they often turn once labour is underway anyway, so I wouldn’t be too concerned. (None of the others were born posterior).

  10. 28


    stacy said:

    my little girl was sideways the entire pregnancy and turned just a few days before she came… i think its pretty common for them to turn right before, but i still did some cat/cow stretches to help her align. i think it doesn’t hurt to talk to them either and encourage them to get in the right position!

  11. 29


    Sarah said:

    Have you read any of Ina May Gaskin’s books? She is a world renowned midwife and has a lot to say about natural birth. I myself am studying to become a midwife and really appreciate her thoughts.

  12. 29


    Kelsey said:

    Ours was also sideways most of the time, and flipping side to side right until the end. Most of his time was spent with his back on my left side and his feet on my right, especially in the last few weeks, and even on the day I went into labor, last Sunday. When he was born on Monday, though, he had turned into pretty much exactly the correct position, except that his arm was up and blocking his way just a little bit. So, I’d say there’s still lots of time for yours to get in the right place. Good luck!

  13. 29


    kate so said:

    Baby Nelson was delivered vaginally in a posterior position. I planned on a home birth, but had to transfer to the hospital. We didn’t know he was posterior. I spent lots of time on my hands and knees in the last weeks to encourage an anterior position. I even had an ultrasound the afternoon I went into labor and it didn’t show he was posterior.

    Looking back, staying at home for so long allowed me to have a vaginal birth. For hours I stayed in positions that put his head directly on my cervix. This kept the contractions coming. The problem I ran into was my cervix dilated unevenly and it swelled up on two sides due to his position. We stayed at home until I was 9.5 cm dilated and I was starting to get the urge to push. At that point my midwife thought if I would get an epidural Nelson could descend the rest of the way without me causing more swelling during my contractions. (I was uncontrollably pushing at the end of each contraction at that point.) Fifteen minutes after the epidural I was ready to push. I did have an episiotomy, but only because my tissues were abnormally tight. My midwife said this as did my nurse and ob.

    The one thing I can take away from my birth story is that you can’t plan it. Granted sometimes it turns out just as you imagine. But sometimes there are things that come up that you didn’t factor in.

  14. 29


    elisabeth said:

    Rye was breech for weeks and weeks. I was so worried that I’d have to have a c-section so I tried every crazy idea that anyone mentioned. It was frustrating to feel like I should be doing something about his position but at the same rate feeling like I really had no control over the situation. At 37 weeks, the day before my doctor was about try to turn him manually, I went in for an ultrasound and he was in the perfect position. You’ve got lots of time. And no matter what position your little one ends up in you will have an amazing birthing experience.

  15. 29


    Juliette said:

    My daughter was also facing the wrong way and I was able to deliver vaginally but it did take a LONG time and a lot of pushing. I also had to insist they let me push longer instead of going for the C-section they started talking about, and they did. I also had a 2nd degree tear, which is pretty standard. The worse part of this is that the contractions are all the more painful, what they call back labor, and it is harder to push a baby facing the wrong way. But it can be done! Good luck!

  16. 29


    denise said:

    acupuncture! i worked at a clinic for a year and we ended up having a lot of clients who were breech and wanted the baby turned around. although i don’t know a lot about it, I do know they were successful a majority of the time!

  17. 29


    Dana said:

    I am just 20 weeks along in my pregnancy, but our midwife is fantastic and suggested, from early on, that we read the book “Optimal Foetal Positioning”, which is out of print, but available online:


    She said it’s the one book she hands-down recommends to all of her families-to-be. This site, which references the book, is also full of great information for turning/determining position:


    Betcha that little guy will turn just when he’s supposed to, though! Best of luck!

  18. 29


    rebecca said:

    it’ll be wild, alyson. all this focus on labor and then, presto, just like that it’s all behind you and every step you take from then on you’ll be a mama with a babe in your arms. it’s an immediate and amazing transformation. i love that you’re keeping track of your pregnancy so closely. it will mean so much to you in the coming months and years.

    if you’re worried i’m certain you could go in at most any time just to have someone who can “see through their hands” palpate around and give you an opinion on his position. like others have said, they can even turn during labor. and i would just avoid the reclined position and do pelvic tilts whenever you can. (the “cat” portion of “cat/cow” in yoga.) that’ll give him more room to drop his back down to match the curve of your belly.

  19. 30


    kristina said:

    I thought dashiell was posterior for a while too, but by the end I was pretty sure I could feel his back. I bet little W will turn the way he’s supposed to be. Often they rotate in labor too. I know it’s hard not to obsess about all of this stuff! I certainly did my fair share, and I’m sure I’ll do it again for the next one. But in the end, everything is going to happen as it should. Your body and your baby know what they’re doing!

  20. 1


    sonya said:

    1. hands and knees, 15 min 3x/day.

    2. if babe is still posterior during labor, be advised: you may experience a “plateau”, likely during the active phase of labor, or even possibly in transition. what this looks like is dilation “stopping” (actually only taking a break) while the baby’s head molds. it takes a lot longer for a baby’s head to work out how to get through in posterior position, and while it’s getting sorted out, you may stay at 5 or 6 or 7 cm for 5 or 6 or 7 hours, or longer, without anything being the matter. some medical people (and frustrated laboring moms!) can come to the conclusion that labor has “stalled”, that the cervix won’t change any more and that the only option is a c-section. as long as heart tones look good, there is no reason to opt for a section. ride it out, get pain relief if you want it. good luck!

  21. 3


    My baby was in an anterior position in the third trimester, too. My midwife told me that I couldn’t recline. I had to sit up completely straight and never let my knees get higher than my hips while sitting. I followed her instructions and my baby did end up turning in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know for sure if that’s what did it, but it was worth the try!

  22. 4


    my little girl was breech and i spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy doing everything i could to “fix” her. i stood on my head (a lot), did acupuncture, worried and wished that she would turn (a lot) and then finally had a manual version at the hospital where my doctor and midwife tried to turn her… (ouch!) i did all of these things in hopes that i would get her to turn so that i wouldn’t have to have a c-section…. but alas, she stayed right where she wanted to be, all tucked in, cozy and warm, just as she was supposed to be.
    this is all to say that i finally learned to let go and have the baby do what she needed to do… there comes a time when we finally realize that we are not in charge and the little babes have a mind of their own. my birth was just perfect, yes is was a c-section, but all went well and it really doesn’t matter how they come into the world in the long run…
    i know it’s hard, but do your best to let your baby do what they need to do and try to relax and enjoy these last few weeks… it really goes by so fast! soon you’ll have your little guy! best wishes!

  23. 5


    lala said:

    Baby G was sunny side up and a BIG boy – 10 pounds 3 ounces, 23 inches long. (My OB estimated that he’d be 8.5 pounds at delivery!) I labored naturally, no drugs, for 12 hours and pushed for 3 more hours. I was unable to push him under my pubic bone and had to have an assisted birth. The doctor had two unsuccessful attempts to deliver with the vacuum extractor and resorted to forceps for delivery.

  24. 5


    Beth said:

    Just a word of encouragement. My baby was breech, but the midwife “missed” it on the first exam and didn’t discover the position until I was fully dilated and ready to push. She quickly ordered that I be prepped for a C-Section, so I was, including the epidural. But, when the doctor arrived, he suggested that we try delivering the baby breech — with lots of precautions in place of course. So, we tried…and were able to successfully deliver the most beautiful baby girl…butt first! Our bodies (and babies) are capable of doing amazing things! And, I’m certain that we’ll see many examples later in this little girl’s life that demonstrate why she didn’t even want to enter the world like everyone else. :)

  25. 5


    lala said:

    I forgot to mention that I did tear since I delivered Baby G posterior. I had a third degree tear, but it seems to have healed nicely. Not much discomfort or itching. I had an all natural delivery and managed pain postpartum with Tylenol and Motrin.