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, making childbirth easier and safer for pregnant women. Fortuitously, in approximately 97% of pregnancies, infants naturally assume a head-down position. Nonetheless, the timing of this positioning largely hinges on the stage of pregnancy you have reached. While it varies individually, commonly, babies tend to align head-down after the 20-week milestone. Read on to know why it is 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.

Video : Baby Turning Head Down During Pregnancy – Importance, Symptoms and When to Expect

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 a head-down position, as this is considered the ideal and 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?

New mothers are always anxious about the movement of their babies; mostly, they enquire about when do babies go head down. To answer this, one must know that 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 the occipito anterior position after the onset of labour, but the cephalic presentation will occur after 36 weeks. However, the ideal time for the baby to reach the head-down position is between 32 and 36 weeks.

Doctor checking woman's baby bump

Where Can You Feel the Movement When Your Baby Turns His Head Down?

Sensations of your baby’s movements will become palpable as he twists, turns, and engages in various kicks across different regions of your abdomen.

While symptoms of a baby turning head down, you might experience kicks in novel locations. You could detect potent yet less frequent kicks beneath your ribs on either side, accompanied by more wriggling motions.

Your baby’s other movements might exhibit dissimilarities contingent on his orientation:

  • Anterior Position (head down, with his back facing the front of your abdomen): If your baby assumes an anterior position, you will likely perceive movements underneath your ribs. Additionally, your belly button might protrude.

  • Posterior Position (head down, with his back against your back): This positioning generally entails feeling kicks directly at the front of your abdomen, typically around the centre. You may also observe that your abdomen appears more flattened than its usual rounded shape.

Remember that if your placenta is positioned at the front of your abdomen (anterior placenta), you might have a diminished sensation of your baby’s kicks at the front.

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

There are many ways and symptoms of baby turning head down 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 baby’s hands and fingers cause the flutters, 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 no medical evidence 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, stimulating the baby to turn into the head-down position.

  • Ensure 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 high. Hold this position and then rise.

  • Avoid raising your feet 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 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, consult your doctor if your baby does not get into the head-down position and is in the breech position.

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. Remember that around 5% of all pregnant women have a C-section if the baby is not in the occipital-anterior position. This avoids risks to the baby’s life due to a breech position.


1. Is It Normal If Baby’s Head Turns Down At 28 Weeks?

Infants commence transitioning into a vertical position, indicating either the head-down or buttock-down orientation. Some may postpone adopting this vertical alignment until the 28-week mark, while a smaller number might do so around the 30-week mark. Between the 28th and 30th weeks, babies initially in a breech position (where the buttocks/pelvis descend into the mother’s pelvis before the head) frequently switch to a head-down position.

2. Does Walking Cause Baby’s Head Turn Down?

Engaging in daily walks lasting up to one hour might prompt your baby’s head, which constitutes the weightiest portion of their body, to move downward. However, refrain from doing so if you are experiencing pelvic discomfort.

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


1. External Cephalic Version (ECV); Cleveland Clinic;  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22979-ecv

2. Fetal Positions for Birth; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9677-fetal-positions-for-birth

3. How your baby lies in the womb; NHS inform; https://www.nhsinform.scot/ready-steady-baby/labour-and-birth/getting-ready-for-the-birth/how-your-baby-lies-in-the-womb

4. C-section; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/about/pac-20393655

5. Coco. A. S, Silverman. S. D; External Cephalic Version Print; American Family Physician; https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/1998/0901/p731.html 

Also Read:

How to Turn a Breech Baby Naturally?
Baby’s Positions in the Womb and How to Discover Them
Baby in Vertex Position During Labour And Delivery

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