When Does a Baby Turn Head Down in Pregnancy

When Does a Baby Turn His Head Down During Pregnancy?

Towards the end of the third trimester of the pregnancy, babies usually turn to the head-down position in the womb. This happens between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. The head-down position makes labour shorter, and childbirth easier and safer for a pregnant woman. Read on to know why is it essential for a baby to get into the head-down position before labour and tips on how to get the baby to turn his head down.

Why Is it Important for a Baby to Turn His Head Down in the Womb?

A baby moves at an angle through his mother’s pelvis during childbirth. This makes it easier for the mother to push the baby out. Furthermore, if the baby is in the head-down position before delivery, the risk of complications during childbirth is less. The labour will be shorter and less painful if the baby is in head-down position as this is considered the ideal and a risk-free position for delivery.

When the baby is in the head-down position, the baby’s head will put pressure on the mother’s cervix. This will help widen the cervix and stimulate the cervix to produce hormones that are necessary for a mother’s cervix. In the head-down position during natural childbirth, the baby turns his head naturally when he reaches the bottom of the mother’s pelvis. This puts the baby’s head in the broadest part of the mother’s pelvis, making it easier for the baby’s head to slip easily under the pubic bone for a smoother birthing process.

What Is the Favourable Head-Down Position?

The favourable head-down position is the cephalic presentation with occipito anterior position. This is when the baby’s head is down towards his mother’s vagina and his face and front of his body face the back. When the baby is in the head-down position, his spine faces the mother’s tummy. This way, in natural birth, when the baby is delivered, his head appears first.

When Does the Foetus Come Into the Head-Down Position?

Most babies turn into the head-down position between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. Some babies turn their heads down even after the 37th week of pregnancy, but it depends on certain factors. The other babies may come into occipito anterior position after the onset of labour, but the cephalic presentation will be there after 36 weeks. However, the ideal time for the baby to arrive into the head-down position is between 32 and 36 weeks.

Doctor checking woman's baby bump

How Will You Know If the Baby Is in the ‘Head-Down’ Position?

There are many ways to find out whether or not the baby is in the head-down position in the womb.

  • The doctor can determine the position by feeling your abdomen, using a foetal doppler or by doing an ultrasound.

  • You can try belly-mapping. It is a process in which you determine the position of your baby’s head by a 3-step process of feeling your abdomen and the baby’s movements.

  • If you press gently around your pubic bone and feel something hard and round, it is your baby’s head. But many pregnant women mistake the bottom for the head. You must keep in mind that the bottom is softer than the head.

  • You can ask your partner to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. If you hear it in your lower abdomen, chances are that the baby is a head-down position.

  • If you feel light flutters and hiccups lower down in your belly, and hard, powerful kicks higher up, it could be a sign that the baby is in a head-down position. The flutters are caused by the baby’s hands and fingers, while the kicks are from the baby’s knees and feet.

How to Get Your Baby Into the Head-Down Position While Pregnant

If your baby has not turned into the ‘head-down’ position by week 36, there are some steps that people believe help a baby get into the head-down position.

Note: Many women may try these tricks to get the baby into the head-down position, but there’s no medical evidence that suggests that these methods work to get the baby into the head-down position. Hence, they are best avoided. But if you still want to try them, you should do so only after consulting your gynaecologist. If your gynaecologist gives a go-ahead, you can try them under supervision. Let’s look at these exercises that may work. Remember, do not try them without confirming with your doctor.

  • Get on all fours (in a crawling position) and rock back and forth in this position for a few minutes. You can do this a few times daily. This should help your baby get into the ‘head-down’ position easily.

  • Go for at least a 20-minute walk every day. A simple physical activity will create movement in your pelvis, which will stimulate the baby to turn into the head-down position.

  • Make sure that your knees are not elevated higher than the hips when you sit. Sit with your pelvis tilted forward. This will help the baby get into the head-down position easily.

  • Sit on an exercise ball or lean over the exercise ball while watching TV. This will prompt the baby to turn into the head-down position.

  • Kneel on a couch. Lower your arms to the floor so that your hands touch the floor and your head is downwards. Flatten your back. Raise your buttocks up high. Hold this position and then rise up.

  • Avoid raising your feet up while lying on your back. This will make the baby go into a posterior position, which can extend the labour and cause severe back pain during childbirth. Also, sleep on your left side at night rather than on your back. This position is the best for the baby and helps the baby get into the head-down easily.

What If Your Baby Doesn’t Get Into the Head-Down Position?

After trying everything, if your baby does not get into the head-down position and is in the breech position, consult your doctor about this.

Remember, each pregnancy is different. Some pregnant women may have had a baby in the anterior position during the first pregnancy. However, they may not be able to get their babies’ in the head-down position during the second pregnancy. Keep in mind that around 5% of all pregnant women have a C-section if the baby is not in the occipito-anterior position. This is in order to avoid risks to the baby’s life due to a breech position.

The head-down and occipito-anterior positions are the safest for both the mother and the baby to ensure smooth childbirth. But you need not worry, if your baby does not get into these positions. Check with your doctor what can be done, she will guide you the best! 

Also Read: How to Turn a Breech Baby Naturally

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