pregnant woman sleeping

If your midwife’s said your baby is back-to-back, there’s still a big chance that they’ll move. In the meantime, here are some ideas to help them shift…

While there’s definitely no right or wrong position for your baby to hang out in in your womb, labour’s definitely easier if they’re facing a certain way. That’s head down, with their tummy facing your back.

Some babies though will lie with their back against your back, known as being in the ‘occiput posterior’ (OP) position.

"If they’re in that position, giving birth tends to take longer – words no-one wants to hear. It’s because your baby can’t tuck their chin in so easily and that makes getting through the pelvis more awkward."

Giving birth to a back-to-back baby can also give you backache while you’re in labour (Simpkin, 2010; RCM, 2012).

Here are some tips to help during pregnancy.

1. Lean forward

Forward-leaning positions, like getting on all fours, have often been recommended. There’s no evidence that this can help turn your baby but it can reduce any backache that you’re suffering because of the baby’s position (Hunter et al, 2007). So it’s definitely worth a go.

It can also be helpful in the first stages of labour to ease backache (Guittier et al, 2016).

2. Don’t panic

In the end, your baby is very likely to end up in the occiput anterior position – one of the best positions. Only five to eight of every 100 babies end up back-to-back with you anyway (Tommy’s, 2016). So try not to worry too much.

3. Get into positions where your pelvis and belly tilt forwards

Some ways to do that are:

  • Sit upright on a chair making sure your knees are lower than your pelvis and your torso is slightly tilted forwards.
  • Sit on a swiss ball.
  • Watch your favourite Netflix show while kneeling on the floor, over a beanbag or cushion or sit on a dining chair.
  • Use yoga positions, like sitting with your back upright and the soles of the feet together, knees out to the sides.
  • Sit on a wedge cushion in the car, so your pelvis is tilted forwards.
  • Sleep on your side, not on your back.
  • Swim with your belly downwards.
  • Any exercises that you do on all fours can be helpful too.

(Sutton and Scott, 1996; Andrew, 2010)

4. Avoid certain positions:

Sometimes you won’t be able to but if you can, ditch:

  • deep squats
  • crossing your legs
  • sitting with feet raised
  • leaning back into a sofa or armchair.

This page was last reviewed in August 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about pregnancy, labour and life with a new baby.

Andrew CG. (2010) Considering non-optimal fetal positioning and pelvic girdle dysfunction in pregnancy: increasing the available space. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. 11(2):783-788. Available from: http://jccponline.com/jccp_v11_n2.pdf [Accessed 13th August 2018]

Guittier MJ, Othenin-Girard V, de Gasquet B, Irion O, Boulvain M. (2016) Maternal positioning to correct occiput posterior position during the first stage of labour: a randomised controlled trial. BJOG. 123;2199-2207. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5132127/ [Accessed 13th August 2018]

Hunter S, Hofmeyr GJ, Kulier R. (2007) Hands and knees posture in late pregnancy or labour for fetal malposition (lateral or posterior). Cochrane Database Syst Rev.(4):CD001063. Available from: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001063.pub3/full [Accessed 13th August 2018]

RCM. (2012) Evidence based guidelines for midwifery-led care in labour: persistent lateral and posterior fetal positions at the onset of labour. Available from: https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Persistent Lateral and Posterior Fetal Positions  at the Onset of Labour.pdf [Accessed 13th August 2018]

Simkin P. (2010) The fetal occiput position: state of the science and a new perspective. Birth. 37(1):61-71. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20402724 [Accessed 13th August 2018]

Sutton J, Scott P. (1996) Understanding and teaching optimal foetal positioning. Tauranga: New Zealand.

Tommy’s (2016) Getting your baby into the best birth position. Available from: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy/labour-birth/baby-best-position-birth [Accessed 13th August 2018]

Further reading

Andrews CM, Andrews EC. (1983) Nursing, maternal postures and fetal positions. Nursing Research. 32:336-341. Available from:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6567853 [Accessed 13th August 2018]

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