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About posterior position

About posterior position


Why posterior?

Attitudes to posterior labours

Strategies to deal with a posterior labour

A few babies will start labour in a posterior position. This is when the baby's back is facing the woman's back inside her uterus, on either her left or right side. Posterior babies are simply a variation of normal. They are not in themselves a complication.

Right posterior position Image 5-26 shows a baby in a right posterior position.

Posterior baby Image 4-06 shows a baby in a left posterior position.

About 90% of posterior babies will turn to the more common anterior position, during the course of the woman's labour, before the birth. About 10% of posterior babies will come down the birth canal, still in the posterior position, being born looking up at their mother's belly (instead of looking down towards her bottom!). Caregivers often refer to this as the baby being born 'face to pubes'.

WARNING: This image shows a real photo of a baby being born 'face to pubes'. If you would like to look at this image, you can click hereBaby face to pubes Image 5-49

Posterior labours have an increased chance (but are not guaranteed) of:
  • Having a longer prelabour, before getting into the stronger labour.
  • Producing more pain in the woman's back, rather than in her front.
  • Taking a little longer, as the baby rotates around to the front.
  • The baby's head being 'deflexed' (or looking forward), rather than 'flexed' (and looking down with their chin on their chest), meaning that the baby's head may not fully engage, until the labour is established.
  • Taking longer to push the baby, out as their head rotates, and flexes.
  • Causing the mother to tear if the baby's head is born in a posterior position.
  • Progressing just as efficiently as anterior labours, especially if the woman has good contractions, assumes forward leaning, active birth positions and has a positive attitude, with the baby turning to become anterior, before being born.

Last revised: Friday, 7 December 2012

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

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