Back to Back babies! Also known as ‘posterior’ ‘OP’ or ‘occipital posterior’. But what does that mean?
The most usual position for a baby to be during labour and birth is head down, with their back facing diagonally left, and forwards. (Note I say ‘most usual’ and not ‘best’). Sometimes for one reason or another, babies face the other way, with their back lined up against your back.
What can this mean for labour and birth? Sometimes, a back to back labour can take longer, the cervix can dilated more slowly and contractions can take a while to become regular. This is because baby’s head may not be pressing on the cervix as strongly when baby is in this position. Sometimes a baby in a back to back position takes longer to navigate the pelvis, meaning the ‘pushing’ or second stage of labour can also be extended. It can also mean that you feel a lot of the sensation in your back itself rather than your bump, and is sometimes why it’s referred to as a ‘back labour’. Occasionally you may be offered the use of instruments to help baby turn (as always, this is your choice). Sometimes however babies turn out of this position during labour itself, and in some cases babies CAN be born in a back to back position.
How do you know if your baby is back to back? Sometimes midwives can identify this position by palpating or feeling your bump, as they do during antenatal appointments. If your waters have gone, your cervix is dilated a little and you have a vaginal examination, midwives can identify baby’s position by feeling the markers on their heads! If you are feeling a lot of sensation in your back or labour is irregular for a long time, this can also be a clue!
What can you do to help them turn? Babies are lazy little things and take the path of least resistance! If we spend a lot of time in pregnancy reclining on the sofa, they are more likely to swing into a back to back position. Simply lying on your side to relax, and spending time upright and forwards (this birth ball, all fours, swimming!!) will encourage baby to rotate. The same positions can be helpful in labour itself. And sometimes women describe a nudging ‘pushy’ feeling earlier on in labour (a very different sensation to bearing down to push in the second stage). So listen to your body!
If you’ve tried all of the above and baby is still back to back, it might simply be that they NEED to be that way! That might be down to the shape of your pelvis, position of the placenta, length of the cord or something else- but we can trust that sometimes they just KNOW.. they’re cleverer than we give them credit for!
Ps if you’ve seen this picture before had you noticed it was a back to back baby until now?
Other helpful resources- www.spinningbabies.com
If you are keen to understand what’s happening in your body during labour, and how hypnobirthing can help things moving in the right direction, you can sign up for classes here or read more of our helpful
If you are interested in taking the next step to a positive birth, Positively Birthing Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Classes run throughout Surrey and SW London- areas including Surbiton, Esher, Teddington, Cobham, Twickenham, St Margarets, Thames Ditton, Molesey, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston, Sunbury, Epsom, Ewell, Chiswick, Ealing, Notting Hill, Barnes, Mortlake and beyond. All bookings can be made here.