Pregnancy is a wonderful event in a woman’s life, but it is also filled with so much uncertainty. Is my baby healthy? What gender is my baby?
An ultrasound and regular examinations with your ob-gyn can usually answer a lot of your questions. However, you may also be wondering how to tell what position your baby is in if an ultrasound is not available. Continue reading and I will tell you!
Why it is Important to Know What Position Your Baby is in?
It is natural for babies to toss and turn frequently while inside the womb. You probably won't feel much movement until you are around the middle of the second trimester.
Before you reach the third trimester, there really isn't much reason for you to worry about his position. Of course, if you have any concerns, you should speak with your ob-gyn right away.
Eventually your baby should settle into a position that is ready for delivery. Ideally, your baby should be head down and facing your back by the time you reach week 36. If your baby is not positioned with his head down, but instead has his butt or feet facing down, then you have what is known as a breech baby in your belly.
There are various types of breech positions and none of them are ideal for a healthy delivery. If your baby is born breech, he will have a higher risk of having birth defects or trauma during delivery.
In the ideal situation, your baby would be delivered with his head (the largest part of his body) coming out first and the rest of his body following it. In a breech position the legs and body are delivered first, making it more difficult for the head to come out.
Another reason that breech deliveries can be so dangerous is the risk the baby has of forming a loop in the umbilical cord. A loop in the umbilical cord can cause the baby to be strangled or cut off from oxygen.
What is Belly Mapping?
Belly mapping can be a fun and useful activity. There are five basic steps involved in the process which help you to identify your baby's position in the final weeks of your pregnancy.
Not only is belly mapping a great way to interact with your unborn baby, it can also help to inform your ob-gyn of any positioning concerns that you may have.
How to Do Belly Mapping
Different variations of belly mapping have been around for many years and were especially common prior to the age of ultrasounds. Belly mapping is super fun and can be done in just a few simple steps. Some mothers who have an artistic flair enjoy painting elaborate images of their babies inside their bellies.
1. The first step is to locate your baby's head. If it feels like you have a bowling ball with a lot of pressure or pain in your pelvis, then your baby is most likely positioned head down. If, however you don't feel much pressure in your pelvis, your baby is probably positioned head up
2. For the next step, you will need to think carefully about where you are feeling the most movement from. Your baby's arms will most likely remain close to the baby's head because he is covering his face a lot or doing a lot of thumb sucking.
If you are noticing a lot of movement outwards towards the center, your baby is most likely posterior (or facing towards your front). However, if your baby's movements are more internal and/or out to one side, he is probably anterior (or facing mostly towards your back).
3. Next, you need to find your baby's heartbeat, using a stethoscope. Once you find the heartbeat, use a non-toxic marker to mark where it is located. If you don't have access to a stethoscope, then a fetal heartbeat monitor will help.
4. After you have marked your baby's heartbeat, slide your hand around your belly using a slight amount of pressure. If you feel a hard mass, then you have probably found your baby's back. However, if all you feel is softness, then your baby is most likely in a posterior position.
5. Lastly, rub your hand around your belly some more and look for the baby's bottom, which will be hard and round. Think carefully about where you feel the most movement, and it should not be hard to guess where your baby's legs and knees are kicking.
- A video on how to do belly mapping -
To Wrap Up…
If you feel as though your baby has dropped before 37 weeks, be sure to contact your ob-gyn immediately to prevent going into preterm labor.
Why don't you try belly mapping yourself? Try these techniques out before you go for your next ultrasound and leave me a comment to let me know how accurate it was.
Fitzpatrick, M. et al. (2001) Influence of persistent occiput posterior position on delivery outcome. Obstetrics and Gynecology Vol. 98, No. 6, December
Gardberg, M. and Tuppurainen, M. (1994) Persistent occiput posterior presentation – a clinical problem. Acta Obstetrics Scandinavia 73: 45-47
Ponkey, Susan et al. (2003) Persistent Fetal Occiput Posterior Position: Obstetric Outcomes. Obstetrics and Gynecology Vol 101, No. 5 part 1, May