How to Prevent
a Posterior
Labor

by mamatam
for MotherSpirit

Posterior labor happens when your baby’s head is face up to your belly button (face down aka anterior is the most common position) and the occiput (the back of baby’s head) is pressing against your spine. This can cause longer labor and severe back pain in labor, although this is not necessarily so!

Here are some ways to prevent a posterior labor…these exercises should encourage baby to rotate to anterior. They should be started at least 6 weeks before the due date for a first pregnancy and 3-4 weeks before the due date for second and subsequent pregnancies. Although don’t get discouraged if you are really close to your due date, it’s really never too late to start! Some babies turn right away with this amount of encouragement. It should be noted these exercises won’t turn an anterior baby posterior, so if you are not sure of position, do these anyway, since they can’t hurt!

Sometimes these measures will still not work. Perhaps it could be because there’s a good reason your baby is posterior…maybe that is the only way s/he can enter the pelvis, or it's possible the placenta is in the way (for example, an anterior placenta may predispose you to a posterior baby). Talk to your baby, and ask your baby if you should take any extra measures to turn him/her. If you feel comfortable that there isn't any really good reason for baby to be posterior and the above measures tried for a couple of weeks have not worked, you might try the following in addition to the above exercises:

Things your caregiver can do to help you out.

Remember, however your birth turns out, even if it's not the labor or birth you want, it WILL be the labor and birth you need. :-)

For more information and some great pictures on fetal position and the knee-to-chest position try this link:

Fetal Presentation

Other related links:
Midwife archives: Sub optimal Fetal Positions, Including Posterior

"Posterior Labor: A Pain in the Back" By Valerie El Halta

"My first 2 babies were posterior…will my third be as well?"

Sources:

Understanding and Teaching Optimal Foetal Positioning by Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott

Heart and Hands by Elizabeth Davis

The VBAC Companion by Diana Korte