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Watch how your baby's position changes during labor and how you can ease the birth.
Daphne Metland: Let's think about the position of the baby in labor, because that's important, too. I've got a couple of teaching dolls here. I'm going to give you this one. And I promise you, your baby will be much more beautiful than this teaching doll!
But it's quite useful, just to feel the size and shape of the baby. Now most babies actually get down into a nice head-down position to get born, and they curl up into what's called a fetal position. They tuck their chin on their chest, which means the smallest diameter is being born, and that way they can really get into the pelvis nice and easily. And usually babies do that at around 36 weeks with a first-time mum. So you'll feel the baby go down into the pelvis, and there's the baby in a nice position, ready to get born.
Occasionally, you get a baby that decides to do it the other way round. So sometimes you get a baby that's trying to get born bottom-first, which isn't quite as easy. And sometimes they put a leg down.
And sometimes, if they're really awkward, they put their legs up by their ears. And you can see that really splints the body: It's called a frank breech. And you can see that the baby can't turn as it comes down through the pelvis, and so it's really hard to deliver a breech baby. And usually they're born by cesarean section. Not always – occasionally you get somebody who is having a second baby and has got lots of space in their pelvis. But generally speaking, a breech baby is nowadays a cesarean section. Thankfully that's only about 4 percent of babies who try and do that.
Most babies automatically get into the head-down position and come down into the pelvis. But sometimes, instead of coming down with the back of their head facing and their back there, they turn themselves around, and try and get down with their spine against your spine. And that's quite an awkward position because there's not as much room that way. It tends to make labor slower and more painful, and you get an awful lot of backache, because your baby's spine is against your spine there. And if you're lying down, then the weight of the baby is on your spine. So if you've got a posterior baby, it's very important to turn yourself over, go on all fours or leaning over a chair or a table, because then what happens, is the baby drops off your pelvis, it relieves the pressure on you, and the pain is so much less. But also it gives the baby room to turn around, and it's easier for the baby to then turn into the right position to get born.
So it's worth asking your doctor or your midwife what position the baby is in in early labor, because that will guide you on how mobile and what sorts of positions to get into to try and help the baby turn.