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Third trimester – how your body position and posture help towards a smooth birth

Cat pose

Third trimester – how your body position and posture help towards a smooth birth

Strike a (birth) pose!

In birth it’s all about position – for you and your baby. And certain yoga poses can make your birth faster and less painful.

So read on and rock that pelvis!    

By Katie Brown

The techniques and movements to encourage the best position for a baby in labour have been researched and developed by midwives Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott of Spinning Babies.

All these poses are fabulous to do during your pregnancy and will encourage your baby to engage into the pelvis (from 34 weeks+) but it is particularly important to practice these positions in the last few six weeks of your pregnancy.

Sutton and Scott coined the phrase: Mum’s job is to dilate, baby’s job is to rotate!

So working together with your baby and by following the tips and advice below (under guidance from your medical practitioner) will help your baby be in the best position to navigate the journey down the birth canal!

Strike a pose

In the last couple of weeks before birth, the ideal position is for your baby to be facing towards your spine on the left hand side, with her chin tucked gently towards her chest. In medical speak this is referred to as the Occiput Anterior Position (OA).

This position means the diameter of the occiput bone (the back of your baby’s head) will be smaller as she moves down the birth canal. It will also help your baby fit into the pelvis more easily than a baby who faces front. If your baby is facing front (this is called the Occiput Posterior Position (OP) then the diameter of your baby’s head will be bigger, leading to the likelihood of a longer labour, more discomfort across the back and a higher chance of intervention in the form of vacuum/forceps to aid delivery.

This position should also give you maximum comfort too making your pregnancy that bit more enjoyable.

So what do you do?

Don’t worry too much if you’ve been slumping and slouching – inevitably there will be times when our posture isn’t as good as it could be. But try to be aware of the way you sit at your desk or while you sit watching TV or relaxing.

Free guide and workbook – download now

Create your own *real* birth plan

Identify the strengths and supports within and around you.

Discover your fears and apprehensions and what to do with them

Our gift to you from Ocean Acupuncture

Cat pose
Cat pose is great for encouraging your baby into a good birthing position

Best positions

  • Sitting upright in a chair or perched on a birth ball (sitting slightly forward with your hips slightly higher than your knees)
  • Funnily enough the position you are in on the toilet is great! (not sure if you’ve noticed but you just can’t slump on the loo!)
  • On all fours in Cat pose – yup – cat pose is where it’s at. On all fours – hands directly under shoulders, middle finger pointing forward, knees below hips. If your wrists are sore, then lean on fists or use some padding under the palms.
  • Spend lots of time on all fours – swaying, circling and practising “cat- cow” (just look forward on the inhale rather than towards the ceiling to avoide over-arching the lower back).
  • Think of your belly like a hammock – by adopting all fours (Cat pose) then with the aid of gravity this will encourage your baby’s shoulders and spine – the heaviest parts of her body to nestle into the belly.
  • Rock those hips – when your pelvis is asymmetrical then you create more space for your baby – and your bub is sure to have a huge smile on his or her face – as this is like being taken on an in-utero rollercoaster – lots of fun!
  • Child’s pose and Frog pose are also lovely to help release the ligaments and muscles surrounding the uterus, which creates a little more space for your baby.
  • And take regular movement breaks while working at a computer or desk.
Frog pose
frog pose can help relax the ligaments of the uterus – creating a little more space for your baby

What to avoid

  • Relaxing in a semi-reclined position (slouching)
  • Sitting with legs crossed
  • Deep squatting (unless baby’s head is engaged in correct position)

Other things to do

You may also want to investigate natural therapies such acupuncture, massage and osteopathy to help encourage your baby into the correct alignment in the pelvis.

A great website to read more on this is Spinning Babies.

And of course practise regular yoga! Check out our great DVD – Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth for more awesome birthing positions.


by Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a yoga teacher, doula, author and infant massage instructor based in Collaroy in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area.

She lectures on the IYTA Yoga Teachers’ training course and the IYTA’s Diploma of Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher Training course. Katie is the NSW State representative for Infant Massage Australia and the co-trainer of the NSW IMA professional training program.

Her blogs appear on sites such as Parenting Australia and Yummy Bubby and she write regularly for a variety of magazines including Australian Women’s Weekly, Australian Yoga Journal and That’s Life!.

Katie’s book, Mother Me – a mum’s guide to balance, wellbeing and harmony, is a unique book for every mother who feels overwhelmed and underappreciated.

Katie teaches throughout the year, offering general yoga classes as well as pre-natal yoga and natural birth workshops.

Katie and family
Katie with Lucas, Indi and Leo

Free guide and workbook – download now

Create your own *real* birth plan

Identify the strengths and supports within and around you.

Discover your fears and apprehensions and what to do with them

Our gift to you from Ocean Acupuncture


This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Disclaimer - Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of all Ocean Acupuncture practitioners. The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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