Shattered glass showered my face as I remember ducking to get away from the cow smashing through our car’s windshield at 70mph.
It was September 15th, 2012 and it was the most defining day of my life.
On the old country highway, it wasn’t just our windows that were shattered but it was also the catalyst for disrupting everything I thought I knew about birth and how my own childbirth experience(s) would pan out. It would change the way I saw pregnancy as a whole and my role in shaping its outcome.
No longer was my perfect pregnancy so perfect. And while I sustained no injuries, nor did my unborn child, the subsequent ultrasound showed a frank breech baby at 9 months pregnant.
Through foggy tears, I listened to my OB/GYN blubber on about he could perform 5 C-sections if I wanted that many kids, even knowing I had my heart set on a natural childbirth.
I walked out of his office never to return.
In the following days, weeks, and years, I found providers that gave me answers, research, solutions, help, and most importantly options. Since my oldest’s birth I have learned all about how sleeping habits, the propensity to recline while resting, and poor posture all affect the positioning of babies and can ultimately dictate labor outcomes.
And, yes, I’ve had two successful VBACs!
Simple solutions to help prevent fetal malposition and malpresentation in pregnancy
While I was eating well and exercising, I wasn’t practicing the most simple ways of ensuring a healthier labor and properly positioned baby. With my first, I was sleeping on my back and even stomach and I was reclining constantly.
During pregnancy, every little thing we do affects our babies and even labor outcomes. So the more intentional we are, the less likely we’ll encounter complications.
While I am not perfect by any means, I have learned how my own poor posture, sleep habits, and preferred ways of relaxing are not ideal for the position and presentation of my kids prior to birth. (In fact, my imperfection is why I have had to learn all of this… and when we know better, we do better, right?)
Ultimately, we want anterior babies. This means better positioning of their head is down and they’re facing mom’s spine for a less painful birth!
So how can a pregnant woman possibly work to change her baby’s position?
So beyond just how someone sits making their bones and bodies push baby in certain directions, gravity pulls the heaviest part of a fetus, the head, downward. Therefore, the longer a woman sits reclined and unsupported, the easier it is for her baby to be malpositioned or present less optimally.
So what’s the difference between the position and presentation of the baby?
When using the term “position,” it assumes the baby is head-down on the cervix. So if your provider is using terms like LOA or ROP, the “O” stands for occiput and very simply just means the back of the baby’s head as it related to the pregnancy mom.
So the ideal, LOA, means Left Occiput Anterior and that the baby is on the left side, facing mom’s spine.
Malpresentations are those in which the baby’s head is not the first thing at the cervix such as transverse and all the variations of breech.
How to prepare for better labor outcomes by improving pregnancy posture
Again, it’s not guaranteed that doing everything perfectly will put baby in the perfect position, but doing our best can at least help prevent it. And comfortable sleep is one of the easiest ways to do just this.
Sleep helps align our spines and rejuvenate us, so no wonder it’s an important part of prepping for childbirth. Boppy Pregnancy pillows are a great solution to discomfort while sleeping and throughout the day.
In my 4 pregnancies, I have found multiple ways of helping myself stay upright. Over the years I have used all 4 different Boppy Pregnancy pillows that offer solutions to pregnancy discomforts and lack of sleep during pregnancy. The different shapes and price points help customize a pregnant moms’ needs to do everything from keeping knees apart while sleeping to improving posture while sitting or propping up her back while relaxing. You will find affiliate links to the products I recommend in the post below. I earn from qualifying purchases.
When sitting, sleeping, or resting, simply remember to take the birthing path of “L.E.A.S.T.” resistance!
Lie on your left side
Doing so helps improve blood flow and nutrient transfer between mom and baby. The weight of the uterus can restrict blood flow to the fetus when sleeping on the back, the stomach is not easy, nor recommended, and the right side is fine, but left is best.
Exercises balls can be used as chairs to sit on when possible
When winding down for the day or even sitting at a desk, exercise balls actually help align baby, especially later in pregnancy. By sitting on a ball, it forces better posture, but also helps open up the cervix to prepare to deliver the baby into this world!
This was the number one rule both my midwives I’ve seen had. My current Midwife, Nancy, even does so far as to not let women sit in her rocking chair or with a stool for their feet because of how it positions the baby. She says “Either sit up, or lay down. No in between in pregnancy!”
The multi-use total body pillow allows moms to sit and read while propping up their low backs and still maintaining comfort!
Support your back
It’s important to keep the spine and hips aligned during pregnancy. This is why I regularly visited a prenatal chiropractor with all three of my children. Once aligned, I do my best to keep good posture both at home and on the go because the body is a system that works together. So alignment of the spine also contributes to alignment of the pelvis for baby! A wedge is small enough that it can easily fit into a diaper bag or similar to use while driving, at work, or anywhere. (My midwife even has one sitting on her sofa).
Tailor Sit (Criss-Cross or Butterfly)
Especially if you can sit and watch TV in bed or on the floor in this position, it discourages reclining while strengthening the muscles in your back and stretching the pelvic region. So not only is it a preferred means of sitting, it’s also an easy, effortless exercise to prepare for labor.
Plus, find more ways to use your Boppy pillows on their YouTube channel!
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This was formerly a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Boppy in 2016. The opinions, stories, research, and text are all mine.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!