Does the Fetus's Position Indicate What Delivery Will Be Like?

In the last weeks of pregnancy, the fetus's position indicates what the delivery will be like. Learn more so you can prepare for childbirth.
Does the Fetus's Position Indicate What Delivery Will Be Like?

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 30 September, 2023

The position your baby is in during the last weeks of pregnancy will give you a lot of information about the delivery. Therefore, it’s possible to know how best to manage discomfort and pain. You’ll also know how to speed up labor once the time of birth arrives. Certainly, the fetus’s position can vary quite a bit; the position can also determine the birth of your little one–whether it’s delivered naturally (vaginally) or by cesarean section.

Does the fetus’s position indicate what delivery will be like?

The answer to this question, which is so common among expectant mothers, is yes. Here are the main fetal positions that indicate how delivery may occur:

1. Anterior cephalic position

This is the most common and best position for delivery; 95% of babies adopt it spontaneously. In this case, the head is low and the baby is facing the mother’s back, with its spine facing the abdomen.

Delivery can be done perfectly well vaginally, except when the baby is very large in proportion to the mother’s pelvis or if there’s a medical reason that prevents it, such as heart disease.

An illustration of a baby sleeping in the womb.

2. Posteriorocciput position

This position is similar to the cephalic position; the baby is with its head facing downwards. The difference is that it faces the mother’s front instead of her back.

In this case, most babies are delivered vaginally, but this can make labor difficult, especially if the baby’s chin is up. Therefore, forceps or a suction cup can be used to help remove the baby.

“The moment the child is born, the mother is also born. The woman already existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
-Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh-

3. Transverse position

This rare position is related to an overly relaxed and large uterus, which allows the fetus to tilt too easily. In this case, the fetus is lying flat or crossways instead of upright.

The baby usually has its head on the left or right side of the mother’s abdomen and is lying on its back or belly with its shoulder over the birth canal. Because of the risks associated with vaginal delivery, the only option is a cesarean section.

4. Breech position

Among the abnormal positions, breech is the most common. In this case, the fetus is positioned with its head raised with the buttocks or legs toward the birth canal. There are three different types of breech positions:

  1. Complete: The baby comes buttocks first and knees bent.
  2. Incomplete or breech: One of the baby’s feet points downward.
  3. Frank breech: In this case, the baby’s buttocks are facing the birth canal and its legs are extended upward, with the feet close to the head.
La posición del feto indica cómo será el parto y de qué manera se producirá el alumbramiento.

What is done in these cases?

In most of these instances where the fetus’s position is abnormal, a cesarean section is performed. However, even if the fetus’s position is head-down, it’s possible to have a vaginal delivery that meets certain conditions: The mother must have a wide enough pelvis, the baby must not be too large, and the mother must arm herself with a lot of patience and courage.

In addition, there are ways to turn a breech baby to a head-down position. One of them is through a procedure called “external cephalic version.” This maneuver is used to try to turn the baby and provide the opportunity for a natural delivery.

Ultimately, as you’ve seen, the position of the fetus indicates what the delivery will be like. We recommend that, as the time to give birth approaches, you’re safe and calm so that everything flows normally. It’s best to rest and take good care of yourself.

Also, don’t forget that even if you can work to achieve a normal position, how you deliver your baby won’t be entirely up to you. In most cases, the specialist doctor can help you find the correct posture and, if this isn’t possible, the option of a cesarean section should be imprescriptible.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.