Read this book if: you are interested in learning about baby’s position inside of you and tips for spinning baby if baby is not in optimal position for birth. See her website for lots of great info – SpinningBabies.com
Bellymapping is a 3 step process for identifying your baby’s position in the final months of pregnancy and in labor. It’s a helpful resource for learning how your baby’s position may affect your labor and birth. Optimal fetal positioning describes the activities that help balance your body and guide your baby to a position that encourages a straightforward labor experience.
Step 1: Mapping the Bumps
Draw on paper where you feel baby’s bumps, kicks and wiggles. A map will organize your findings.
When to Start – Bellymapping works best after 32 weeks. Feet kicking and hands wiggling helpful clues about baby’s position, so map while baby is active. Depends on muscle tone, body fat and amount of amniotic fluid. Hopefully placenta isn’t right in front, blocking your baby from your touch.
Feelings Your Belly – good time is evening before you drift to sleep. Best when lying down as sitting/standing reduces accuracy as abdominal muscles are too firm. A pillow under your knees will relax your round ligaments (one set of uterine ligaments that anchor and support your womb) and prevent a jabbing discomfort during feeling the baby through belly. Sign deeply and release your lower abdominal muscles. Breathing deeply and relaxing the abdomen will help you feel your baby.
Feel with your finger pads, not the tips. Let fingers walk along contour of baby. Think of belly as 4 piece pie. Start with left side – feel what’s in top and in bottom. Feel: firm back and the consistent bulge, often at the top of the back. One side of your womb will be soft and one will be firm – the baby’s back. The bulge at the top of the back is the buttocks in a head down baby or the head in a breech baby. The bulge on a posterior baby will sometimes recede into the womb, out of reach.
Mapping Your Findings – Draw a circle and two crossing lines, or a “pie” with 4 pieces. The center marks your navel. The bottom of the circle is where your pubic bone is found. The left side of your belly is the right side of the pie – like looking at belly in mirror.
3 Opposites in Baby’s Body: heads and buttocks, or bottom; feet and hands; tummy and back. Baby’s buttocks are always opposite it’s head. Most babies are head down, but some are breech (ask care provider). If you know baby is head down, you can find feet at top of belly. If baby is head down, you’ll feel the feet kcik more strongly than you’ll feel hands wiggle. Back is opposite tummy. Back is opposite where you feel kicks and wiggles. Baby’s knees bend towards tummy, may find them near navel. If baby’s back is along your back, baby is posterior – you may feel 2 knees on either side of your navel, but back will be hard to find.
Where’s the Head? Reach above your pubic bone, deep into your belly to feel the firm head (unless baby is breech). If you feel big bulge above head and baby is head down, can assume that is buttocks.
Remember the Heart – where Dr. found heartbeat at last appointment – was probably near baby’s back. If baby is posterior and provider can’t feel baby’s back, was probably the chest.
Hands and Feet – the stronger kicks vs smaller “kicks”, wiggles or taps. Biggest kicks come from baby’s feet. Exceptions when placenta blocks the feet but not the hands or when baby is in frank breech or legs are straight and not kicking much. Small kicks, wiggles or random taps are usually hands (rhythmical taps may be hiccups). Hands wiggles less frequently than hands. Some don’t feel hands because baby is turned away from abdominal wall. When head down baby stretches his legs, a bulge will show up on both sides at top of belly – looking triangular.
Chart Your Findings – draw opposites you found in belly and any info from prenatal apptmt. Can write things like “kicks”, “bulges”, “Wiggles” etc but don’t write hands or feet unless very sure.
Date maps to reveal position changes.
Leopold’s Maneuvers – what caregiver uses to feel baby
Caregivers – ask where mom feels kicking. Leopold’s maneuvers. Bread-dough maneuver
Advanced Tummy Tips
Step 2: Visualizing Your Baby
Matching a doll suddenly brings insight. Get a doll 12-20 inches long to approximate length of a fetus at 30-40 weeks w foldable arms/legs. Arrange doll over map to correspond with body
Up or Down? Try baby’s head up and down. Do kicks and firm spots make more sense now?
Drawing baby on your belly – if you have an artistic friend, doula, or provider, bring a nontoxic washable market and your belly map to your next prenatal. Head makes up 1/3 of baby’s length, so make head bigger to be proportional. Draw feet smaller than they feel (1/3 of length of leg). Arms and legs are short compared to a child’s.
Step 3: Naming the Position – use this specific order. If Q1 and Q3 have the same answer, drop the first word.
Basic Head- Down Positions.
By 34 weeks, ,baby’s back will shift less often, and once head down will hardly change.
Exceptions to above:
Belly Mapping a Breech Baby
Most babies will settle head down by 30 weeks. By 32 weeks, 15% are breech. Only 3-4% remain breech near due dates.
Activities for Flipping a Breech or Transverse Lie
Begin balancing activities early in pregnancy to increase likelihood of baby being head down. Begin flipping activities at 30 or 32 weeks for breech babies.
*Don’t get upside down if you have a risk of stroke, high blood pressure, non-labor bleeding or heartburn. Consult provider and substitute with yoga sling if you have one.
Belly Mapping Twins – see website
How Your Baby’s Position Affects Your Labor – maternal positioning, tone of abdominal muscles, balance of womb, via uterine ligaments and pelvic joints all affect position. During labor contractions, rhythmic movements with gravity promote fetal rotation, but extremes in the amount of your amniotic fluid may ake it too easy or too hard for baby to shift.
Will baby’s head change position? Unusual for baby of first time mom to change head position near end of pregnancy. Narrowing lower uterus holds baby’s head in position over pelvic brim by 32-34 weeks, even though head not usually engaged at that time. If you have abundant amniotic fluid, baby may change, but not common. Womb tone promotes head stability. Hormones or bodywork can soften ligaments to get into more ideal position. When posterior baby switches sides frequently, may have strong “turning contractions” – sometimes called false labor.
Breech Starting Position – cardinal movements (series of changing positions a baby makes during labor and birth) are easier for breech baby when you labor in upright positions. Once baby appears on perineum, hands and knees position is better than lying on back. Spontaneous birth is physiologically sound and safer than breech extraction. “Hands off the breech!”
Cesarean: More cesareans for direct OP babies than anterior babies. Epidural may soften lower uterus, either increasing need for surgery or less likely, allowing rotation and descent. Reduce epidural side effect by waiting until baby is trying to rotate, usually 5 cm or later. Doula care also reduces rate of cesarean birth.
Spinning Babies for Easier Birth
Priorities When Laboring with a Posterior Baby
What if you have a long labor? Baby is trying to engage. May have arm up by head. May need to rotate before dilation can proceed. Eat and sleep as needed. Use techniques to help baby rotate.