Back to Back - No Thank You!

Back to back’ simply means the baby’s back is lying towards the mother’s back, and therefore facing mum’s tum.

Maybe you’ve heard a friend talk about their baby being ‘back to back’, or maybe you have had a ‘back to back’ baby of your own. It tends to make the birth longer. So why is this and is there anything you can do whilst pregnant to correct the position of the baby?

When a baby is born they have to turn and move down through a mother’s pelvis. Women whose babies are ‘back to back’, tend to experience longer labours because the baby needs to move around to get into the best position for the cervix to open and fit his/her head easily through the pelvis.

The best place for your baby to be when labour starts is with its back lying towards your abdomen, and their face to your back.

If you ask your midwife at your 36-week antenatal appointment the position of your baby and she suspects back to back positioning, the first rule is don’t panic! If your baby is back to back as there is still time for his/her position to change and here is how you can help.

Look at this photo: Imagine the glass is the mother and the spoon is the baby. The back of the spoon is the heaviest part and represents the baby’s spine. What do you notice?

If the glass is tipped back the spoon falls back, if the glass is tipped forward the spoon falls forward. It’s similar for mother and baby. In today’s lifestyle, we are often leaning back: relaxing on a sofa with our legs up, driving the car or sitting at a desk all day. All of these positions mimic the first photo.

To help your baby into the best position, adopt a tummy forward position with your knees lower than your hips. Be more upright, use cushions to raise you and support you when sitting on chairs. Sit or lean over a birthing ball. If you don’t have a birthing ball – reverse a dinning room chair. Remember these positions when you are in labour as you may find them more comfortable.

For those interested in knowing more, here is link to Jean Sutton’s website who devised Optimal Foetal Positioning (often referred to as OFP): http://optimal-foetal-positioning.co.nz

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Hi my name is Lianne, I am a midwife, hypnobirth practitioner and antenatal teacher. I am passionate about bridging the gap between parents and providers of all things antenatal.

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