Transverse Lie Position – Diagnosis and Treatment

Transverse Lie Position

A longitudinal lie is a position assumed by a normal baby before labour. A transverse baby position, on the other hand, is when the baby lies across the stomach with her head facing away from the birth canal. As this interferes with the delivery, different techniques are used to correct a transverse lie position. Keep reading for everything you need to know about this position.

What Is a Transverse Lie Position?

If you can’t feel your baby’s head near the pelvis when the abdominal region is palpitated, then, your baby is in a transverse lie. A transverse lie is a position in which the baby lies sideways. This makes a vaginal pregnancy impossible. In most of the cases, a C-section is recommended. If a transverse lie position is diagnosed late during the pregnancy, the chances of the baby staying in that position until birth are high.

Causes of the Transverse Lie Position

There are many reasons why babies assume the transverse lie position. The most common ones are:


The doctor can tell the position of the baby by placing their hands on the abdomen in a series of movements. This is known as Leopold’s Maneuvers. He/she may also request an ultrasound exam to confirm the position of your baby. Typically, the position of the baby is not a concern until the last trimester of pregnancy.

Types of Transverse Lie Position

There are three common identifiable transverse lie baby symptoms or presentations in mothers. They are-

  • Left-Shoulder Presentation – This is when the baby’s left shoulder faces the birth canal. What makes this dangerous is the cord may prolapse and leave the birth canal before the baby leaves, thus making pregnancy impossible in this position.
  • Right-Shoulder Presentation – When the baby’s right shoulder faces the bottom of the uterus, then that’s a right-shoulder presentation. The baby’s head can face either side in this presentation, and the position needs to be changed, or else, mothers have to go through a caesarean.
  • Back-Down Presentation – If your baby lies on his/her back with neither shoulder facing in the direction of the birth canal, then that’s a back-down presentation. This position makes it impossible for labour to move forward since there’s no way the baby can exit in this position.

Complications Arising From a Transverse Lie Position

When your baby is in the transverse lie position, the complications or transverse lie baby risks that arise are:

  • Poor oxygen and blood supply – due to an umbilical cord prolapse – can result in the death of the baby.
  • Since the baby can’t pass through the vagina in such a position, a C-section will be required.
  • Prolonged labour can lead to infections.
  • The umbilical cord can wrap around the baby’s neck, thus putting her life in danger.

What If You’re Pregnant With Twins?

If you’re carrying twins, then the first newborn that is in a transverse lie will revert to a head-down position once his twin is born. The first newborn may wait in anticipation of a transverse lie, and as such, one shouldn’t worry about this when pregnant with twins. In reality, it’s highly unlikely to stay in a transverse lie once twins form in the womb.

Different Ways To Change the Transverse Lie Position

There are several ways to turn a transverse-lying baby into a head-down position.

  • A Webster-technique trained Chiropractor can help you address any foetal presentation concerns. Chiropractor work helps aligns the pelvis, pelvic ligaments, and uterus.
  • Walking at a brisk pace every day helps to strengthen the psoas muscles that run from the spine to the thigh which help bring the baby back into a head-down position.
  • You can use Pulsatilla, a natural homoeopathic remedy which helps your baby turn into a head-down position in a safe and painless way.
  • Lay with your head on a couch, pillows under your hips for support and your legs curled up on the armrest. This position is referred to as the ‘bridge’, and it encourages the baby to go back to a head-down position.
  • Acupuncture therapy is also very effective. Get some moxa sticks if your baby moves around a lot.
  • Shining a flashlight between your legs with music playing in the background may encourage your baby to change its position.
  • Forward leaning inversion is a position that’s effective in bringing the baby back to head-down position. Hold for three breaths, come up and swing on to your heels to get your uterus back in place.
  • Wear a pregnancy belt once your baby gets to a head-down position to keep him/her in place.
  • External version is a medical procedure a midwife sometimes recommend. It recommends manually turning your baby into a head-down position while using ultrasound/Doppler.
  • Specific yoga poses like the Puppy Pose, Viparita Karani, and the Wall Rope are considered very effective techniques for remedying the transverse lie challenge. Don’t hesitate to ask your partner for help/support when practising these poses and always consult a medical practitioner before doing these on your own.

Rope wall yoga

Techniques to Correct the Transverse Lie Position With a Loose Belly

There are several ways you can correct transverse lie when the belly seems loose. You could:

  • Try out the ‘Breech Baby Tilt’ for turning the baby into a head-down position. This involves taking an iron board and propping it at a low angle against a sofa. You basically lie down onto it and put your feet up on the board. Gently massage your stomach in a downward circular motion and visualize your unborn reverting to a head-down position.
  • Sometimes, placing a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel near the baby’s head to encourage him/her to turn to another position and speak to the baby to encourage him/her to move towards the direction of the voice.
  • Try out the forward-leaning inversion. This is how you do it- you kneel on the edge of the sofa and gently lean forward until your forearms support your weight and rest on the floor. A 20-inch distance should be there between your hips and arms/shoulders. Hold this position for three breaths or 30 to 60 seconds and slowly get back up. Repeat this exercise twice every day for several days.

How Does a Pregnancy Belt Help?

Once the baby shifts to a head-down position, you can use a pregnancy belt to keep the baby in place. If your baby is already in a transverse lie, you can use the pregnancy belt to create an enhanced slope to the uterus region and help the ligaments to hold it upright for the baby to get back in position.

Professional Help for Transverse Baby

If exercises and natural remedies fail, then it’s time to turn to some professional help. Here’s what you can do:

  • A myofascial release by an experienced chiropractic or craniosacral therapist will help.
  • Moxibustion, a technique which involves heating the acupuncture points at home by using a stick of mugwort incense is known to address transverse lie problems in babies.
  • If there’s no success after 37 weeks of pregnancy, consult your midwife about doing an external cephalic version procedure.
  • Maya abdominal massages are also very effective.
  • Consult with your doctor for alternative therapies and if all else fails, go for a caesarean pregnancy or C-section birth.

Pregnancy is often fraught with risks to the mother as well as the baby. Having a baby lying in the transverse position can surely worry mothers. But in most of the cases, techniques prove useful in getting the baby to assume the head-down position. Be sure to consult with your local medical practitioner or midwife regarding taking Pulsatilla in case you are already on existing medications for confirming any drug reactions or medication interferences.

Also Read: Assisted Delivery (Forceps and Ventouse)