To be perfectly honest, I was pretty smug about my son’s position throughout pregnancy. From pretty early on, he had been laying LOA (Left Occiput Anterior). We had been working together, I had spoken with him and visualised the optimal position and I had spent plenty time on my hands and knees.
40 weeks arrived and right on cue, he flipped OP! Immediately I was doing everything I knew of to help him move back to LOA. 40weeks and 3 days and my labour started with an OP baby. I instinctively started to do many of the things listed in this amazing blog post, In Celebration of the OP Baby. I had the urge, um, correction, involuntary pushing and was told I was going to hurt my baby and myself if I continued. It was literally out of my control and while I was pushing I was screaming that I was not in control. Eventually, I was told to go onto all fours and put my bum in air. This certainly helped with my “urge” to push as pressure was taken off my cervix but it was also the very first time in my beautiful labour that I started to doubt my body and myself.
If something I was doing completely naturally and instinctively was harming my baby, then could I be trusted? Did my body really know what was going on and what to do? I felt disempowered and that wasn’t necessary.
Reading this post was like a breath of fresh air and a huge sigh of relief – my body HAD known exactly what to do AND I was doing a beautiful job. It is my hope that everyone working with labouring women read this post- a woman’s bodymind really does know what it is doing, even if our understanding of it is slow to catch up (or specific knowledge is isolated to a medical event as opposed to a natural physiological event).
All in all, I had an amazing labour and gentle water birth. If there is a next time, I hope to remember this blog post and take solace in that my bodymind knows exactly what it is doing. I certainly draw on this very personal experience when I support a birthing goddesses in my practice.
How many times have you heard “I had to have an epidural/c-section/ventouse/etc. because my baby was facing the wrong way”? An occipito posterior (OP) position occurs when the baby enters the pelvis facing forward with his back towards his mothers back. The back of the baby’s head is referred to as the ‘occiput’ and is in the back of the pelvis against the sacrum. Between 15-30% of babies start labour in an OP position, but less than 5% will remain in this position at birth (Sizer & Nirmal 2000). An OP position is associated with medical intervention during labour: syntocinon infusion; epidural; forceps; ventouse; c-section. This post will discuss whether an OP position is actually a problem, or if the problem lies in our beliefs about, and management of this common position.
A bit of anatomy and physiology
I’m assuming that readers of this blog…
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So, you’ve spent your whole pregnancy preparing for an empowered and natural birth, either at home or at a birthing centre or even a hospital. You’ve been eating right, exercising, processing and visualising. You’ve prepared the most inspired birth vision and comprehensive birth plan. You’ve researched comfort measures, labour positions, placenta encapsulation and delayed cord clamping. You may have decided to cloth nappy and go the all natural route for everything (It’s Sh*t Crunchy Pregnant Mamas Say!) and now, the unthinkable, the unmentionable has happened and you NEED a caesarean. What happens now? Do you become disempowered? Do you surrender to the system? Do you get over it and be grateful you have a healthy baby? (Yes, of course at the end of the day we want our babies to be healthy, thats a given! I believe its also important to acknowledge the loss of an experience you have worked very hard to achieve and you have the right to grieve that loss – there are some great support groups just for that). Does a caesarean mean you no longer have control? Not if you have given it a little bit of thought beforehand *just* so you are prepared. Shine a little light on the dark shadow and it’s no longer that dark. Sure, you will need to surrender a certain amount of control and your individuality but you can still question procedures. It is still the birth of your baby and it is still an incredibly sacred time. You can have a caesarean and still remain in control and most importantly EMPOWERED. For more information or research to take to your care provider: An incredible YouTube presentation,