Everything you Need to Know about Posterior Baby Position

When it comes to pregnancy, there’s a surprise around every corner. And, if you’re like most expectant moms, there’s something new to worry about at each new stage. For many moms, baby positioning can be both a surprise and a concern. While neither of these is a reason to panic we’re here to tell you all about the posterior baby position and Right Occiput Transverse. 

The Challenges of Posterior Baby Position and Right Occiput Transverse ”“ and What You Can Do About It

The Skinny on Fetal Positioning

As you near the end of your pregnancy, your doctor will begin paying more attention to the baby’s positioning. Ideally, your baby will remain in Vertex Position which is the best position for a vaginal birth. This is an Anterior Position with baby’s head down and facing your spine. However, if your little one is being less than cooperative, you may find yourself with a baby in Posterior Position. Posterior babies are those with their head down but facing forward, rather than toward mom’s spine. You may have heard this referred to as “sunny side up” in layman’s terms. Babies can be safely delivered in this face-up position, too.

What many moms worry about with a Posterior Position baby is whether this position will present additional challenges. In some ways, it may.

  • Vacuum Intervention may be needed to help your baby through the birth canal 
  • C-Section may be necessary 
  • Long Back Labor is common 
  • Perineum Tears are more likely as your baby is not taking the ideal path out 

Despite all these things, there is no reason to panic. Babies are born this way every single day, and your doctors will take the necessary steps to keep everyone safe and healthy.  

What To Do Before Labor 

  • Stretch Oil- I recommend using this no matter what fetal position your baby is in, but it is especially helpful if you know you have a Posterior Positioned baby. Massaging your perineum will help you prepare for labor and avoid any tears. This BabyIt Comfort Gel is perfect to use for this and can also be used after childbirth. 
  • Clean Your Floors- Okay, you do not actually need to clean but crawling around on all fours might help your baby to flip. 
  • Invest in a Birthing Ball– These are great to use before labor, but also lifesavers during labor. The ball we’ve linked here also comes with an exercise instruction guide!
  • Book a Chiropractor Appointment- Chiropractors can be helpful to expecting mothers in many ways. They will help align you and keep you stretched out. This is helpful if your baby is sunny side up and causing lower back pain. 
  • Buy a Pregnancy Pillow- Being pregnant is tiring and when you aren’t sleeping well it is just downright miserable. A pregnancy pillow can provide some much-needed comfort. Check out all our favorites here.

What Having A Posterior Positioned Baby Means

Like we said above, Posterior Position means your baby’s head is down but facing forward. It is different than breech where instead their feet would be down and head up. The OP (Occiput Posterior) position is the most common. This is when the baby’s head is against its mother’s back. 

Challenges of a Posterior Position Baby

Oftentimes, labor can be prolonged when the baby is in the Posterior Position. This is because the hardest part of the baby’s skull is trying to exit the birth canal first, rather than the more malleable top of the head. This position also means that the hardest part of the baby’s skull is closest to mom’s lower back, rather than her abdomen, which is why women with Posterior Position babies will often experience painful back labor.

The good news is, the majority of babies ”“ 90 percent, in fact ”“ will turn into the Vertex Position on their own during labor. If the baby doesn’t turn, labor can still progress in a safe and healthy way, though moms delivering face-up babies are more likely to experience perineal tears.

Can I Turn Baby Myself?

You may know your baby is in the Posterior Position either because of your recent ultrasound or because you’re feeling strong kicks at the top and front of your belly. If this is the case, you can take assist your little one in turning into Vertex Position before labor begins.

Spinning Babies is a robust and popular resource for moms hoping to turn a Posterior Position baby. Since most babies assume their final birth position between 33 and 36 weeks of gestation, you still have time to try these techniques even if you’re nearing your delivery date. Of course, you should discuss your plans with your doctor before attempting to turn a Posterior Position baby on your own. Also, talk to your doula or get a doula. She has probably been through this many times and will get you prepared for labor. 

What About Fetal Head Positioning?

As your pregnancy progresses, you may also learn that your baby’s head is in an Occiput Transverse Position. This is different than a Transverse Lie, which means the baby is horizontal in the womb, rather than vertical. The term “occiput” refers to the back of the baby’s skull, where the occipital bone cradles the brain. This means an Occiput Transverse Position is halfway between Posterior Position and Anterior Position.

Left Occiput Transverse, in which the baby’s head is turned toward the mother’s right side, is considered ideal to begin labor ”“ babies in this position typically turn Anterior as labor progresses. In the Right Occiput Transverse position, the baby’s head is turned toward the mother’s left side.

We will talk about this position more below as well! This position may be a sign that a formerly posterior baby is in the process of turning. However, babies in Right Occiput Transverse usually rotate Posterior during labor. This can lead to even more complicated labor and delivery.

Challenges of Right Occiput Transverse Position

Women with babies in Right Occiput Transverse position are often in for long labor ”“ and many times a more painful one, too. It’s also likely that your doctor will take manual measures to turn the baby’s head and allow for a safe neck position during delivery.

Most often, forceps will be used, though vacuum extraction is also possible. If the doctor determines that the baby’s head cannot be adequately rotated for safe vaginal delivery, then labor can end in a Cesarean section.

What’s a Mom to Do?

If your baby is in Right Occiput Transverse when labor begins, your doctor will likely be able to tell through a physical examination. You may wish to try labor positions that encourage the baby to turn an Anterior into Vertex Position. This includes pelvic tilts, lunging and standing and swaying. Tell your doctor or doula you want to try these things and be adamant about it. Many moms have success with these techniques, though they don’t work for everyone.

Every baby is unique, regardless of positioning, and every labor will be an individual experience. While we hope you learned something here don’t forget to talk with your doctor, doula or other health professional about any concerns you may have.

Labor and delivery are challenging, but life-changing experiences. It’s normal to be anxious about positioning and more, but don’t hesitate to talk with trusted health professionals when concerns arise.


Have questions about fetal positioning? Please leave a question in the comments or ask questions in our Rookie Moms Facebook Group.

It’s a great way to connect with other moms, share tips and get advice.

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