around, partly according to its own needs and partly according to the shape and position of the mother’s body. The posterior of a baby, their spine and buttocks, are the heaviest parts of their body, and over time this side will naturally sink to the lowest place. The way in which your baby will eventually end up lying greatly depends on your own habitual movements and postures. Adverse factors which will send the baby’s spine rolling towards your spine (posterior presentation) are as follows:
• weak abdominal muscles
• weak lower back muscles
• frequent slumping in deep lounge chairs
• sitting on badly shaped chairs
• long periods of driving
• lying on your back on a very soft, unsuppor-tive mattress
• lack of daily bending and stretching
• any posture where you are leaning backwards where the knees are higher than the hips.
Conversely, the most advantageous lifestyle positions which will encourage the spine of the baby to swing down to rest against his mother’s belly (preferred position) include:
• sitting well forward rather than slumped in a chair
• sitting on the floor on your feet with knees spread (Vajrasana)
• sitting on the floor on a cushion with knees apart and lower than the hips (Swastikasana)
• spending some regular time on your hands and knees (Marjariasana)
• sleeping on your side or half frontal position (Matsya Kridasana)
• daily activity which gives your body a broad range of varying positions.
• forward bending (Butterflies Series)
Turning a Posterior Presentation
If you discover that your baby is face up, to improve your chances of the somewhat easier, anterior facing birth, it is advisable to start a special exercise regime as early as possible to help him face the spine – and keep him that way until birth. But be warned, turning babies sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t work. And if you do at first succeed, sometimes they return to where they were!
A foetus most usually aligns itself to face its placenta so that the cord goes the easiest way to his navel (less chance of being restricted during pregnancy, tangled or compressed in birth). So if the placenta happens to be on the front wall of the uterus, the baby may stubbornly resist being turned, or else may turn back again after your efforts.
For those who know they are carrying a posterior presentation, deep squats (usually used for firm engagement) should not be done until the baby has turned to a normal presentation, to avoid the head becoming deeply engaged in a face upwards position. If you do manage to turn him, squatting and engagement after that time might well keep him there as the head has less room to move around.
Either alone, or combined with a midwife’s or partner’s assisting massage, the following yoga asanas, performed regularly and right up until the birth, can greatly improve your chances of swinging your baby around to face your spine. I suggest the following 15 - 20 minute routine be done up to 3 times daily. Do them in the order listed, resting whenever you feel like it in the positions shown.
1. First begin your “turning session” with a short relaxation lying in Matsya Kridasana. Spend a few minutes focussing inwardly on your baby, and relaxing in the pelvis and belly. Whenever using this pose, try to remember to alternate sides from the last time you did it.
Figure 11 - Matsya Kridasana (Flapping Fish Pose)
2. Next, do whichever of the two inverted postures below you can manage most easily. Those with high blood pressure must avoid these poses. They should omit this step and proceed on to the next one. Hold your choice of pose for about 1 - 2 minutes, all the while breathing slowly and deeply. The purpose of this step is to help the baby’s head come up and out of the lower pelvis to have more headroom to turn over.
Figure 12 - Sumeru Asana (Mountain or Dog Pose)