Optimal Fetal Positioning

Advice for Optimal Foetal Positioning

Here is some information to help encourage baby to go into the ideal position for birth before labour begins. If you baby is head down and a single baby then from 32 weeks onwards this advice will help encourage baby to lie with its back to your left side/front & encourage baby to engage.


Regularly use upright and forward leaning postures. It allows more available space in the pelvis for your baby to turn.

Sit with your knees lower than hips, with back straight as possible. Use pillows or cushions under the bottom and in the small of the back.

Sit to read on a dining chair with elbows resting on dining table, knees apart, leaning slightly forward.

Sit facing chair back and resting arms on back of dining chair.

Kneel on the floor leaning over a large beanbag or floor cushion or birthing ball to watch TV.

Put a wedge cushion or rolled up towel under your bottom when driving & keep back rest upright.

Swimming is very good to help position baby - no backstroke after 16 weeks.

When resting/sleeping, try and sleep on your left side, with a pillow between the legs.

It is ideal to use a forward leaning position when having Braxton hicks as this increases their effectiveness to help baby manoeuvre in to an optimum position.



Relax in semi-reclining positions that have your knees higher than your hips.

Take long trips in cars with bucket seats. If you must use a wedge cushion as above.

Sit with legs crossed.

Use squatting as an exercise in late pregnancy if baby is not optimally positioned as this can fore baby head into pelvis before it is in the correct position.

Useful Positions During Labour

If possible stay on your feet, leaning forwards and rocking hips side to side/up and down with each contraction.

Keep your bottom wiggling during contractions.

Lean forwards over a beanbag, birthing ball or bed.

Hang onto something with arms well above waist height (eg partners neck!) and let your body sag and turn knees outwards.

Sit your birthing partner on a chair, kneel on the floor knees apart and lean on his thighs (get them to rub/massage your back at the same time).

Get on all fours either on bed or floor.

Bouncing on a birthing ball.

If you are on the bed lie on your side. Preferably left.


Try to avoid lying on your back in a reclining position in bed during labour

Useful Links

Optimum Fetal Posistioning - Jean Sutton

Spinning Babies

Please note this advice is only meant to complement your antenatal care and may not be suitable for all women or all pregnancies. Always consult your childbirth/health professional.