When I was expecting my kids, I wasn’t ever concerned about where they were “positioned” until the very end.
And, my doctor suspected they may be breech.
But, many modern moms follow along as their baby grows, moves, and shifts positions with "belly mapping".
Read on to find out all about what belly mapping is, its benefits, and how you can take action at home!
Belly mapping is knowing your baby’s position in your uterus, and then taking action to help it move into an ideal position for birth.
Most moms know that head down is always the best position, but in order for labor to go more smoothly, they want to have their baby’s position be to the left and anterior (yes, fancy words).
So, by belly mapping, you can figure out just where you baby is, and where you want them to be (and you can physically make that happen!)
What Do the Positions Mean?
If you’re planning on belly mapping, there are terms you’ll have to become familiar with. They include:
- Breech. The baby is positioned with their feet pointing down toward your cervix and their head facing up.
- Posterior. The baby is looking at its mother’s belly.
- Anterior. The baby is facing its mother’s back.
Belly mapping is usually done after 30 weeks of pregnancy.
As a rule of thumb, you should generally do this with your doctor, midwife, or other birth professional.
Some moms wait until the very end of their pregnancy to see if their breech baby will turn on their own, while others get active right away and try to control their baby to sit in the proper placement from the get go.
It’s really up to you and if you are starting to notice pressure or pain anywhere in your body.
Doctors generally will want to order a C-section if a baby is breech for safety reasons, so as soon as moms get the report that their baby is facing head up even after a few visits, they immediately want to start the process of mapping to make sure they are faced in a safer position.
Good news: you don’t need much to baby map!
Non-toxic markers are helpful, as are a bottle of non-toxic paint.
Any kind of prop that resembles a baby will also help you visualize your little one during the process is also a must.
The first thing you do is locate your baby’s head. When your baby is placed head down, it will feel like a little bowling ball around your pelvis. If you don’t feel like your baby is facing downward, chances are they aren’t just yet.
Next, think about where you’re feeling the most movement from. Your baby’s arms are generally close to your baby’s head because they are doing a lot of thumb sucking and covering of their face. So, it you feel more movement outwards and to the center, your baby is most likely posterior. If your movements are more internal and often to one side, they are most likely anterior. You can try to figure this out prior to your doctor’s visit. Your ob/gyn can confirm your suspicions with an exam.
You also need to find your baby’s heartbeat. Once it’s found, you use the non-toxic marker to mark it on your belly.
After it’s marked, slide your hand around to look for a long and hard mass. This will be your baby’s back. If you cannot feel a hardness, you can bet that your baby is probably posterior.
Using your baby “prop”, start to imagine how your baby is sitting in your womb. If you still are having a hard time imagining this scenario, then start to look for your baby’s bottom. It will feel hard and round (often times moms mistake the head for the rear!) When you think you’ve located it, you can draw a tooshie on your belly.
Once you locate the rear, you’ll have a better understanding of leg placement (use the doll again) because you’ll be able to place legs and knees to those hard and powerful kicks you’re feeling.
While this can be done all in fun at home, it’s best to share with your doctor your ideas, and let them have the final “say” on determining placement. Whether you’re right or wrong with your suspicions, baby mapping can be a fun experience.
In fact, some moms get ultra-creative and draw a full fledge piece of baby art on their belly.
Some even document their mapping projects every month as their belly grows and grows.
How to Get Out of Bad Positions
While your doctor can confirm your baby’s position and attempt to move them if necessary, there are also things you can do at home (with the doctor’s permission) to also move your baby into a better position by completing exercises.
Here are five of my favorite!
1. Walking On an Incline
Ok, by no means am I suggesting you hike up a mountain, but walking on a treadmill on a slight incline for 30 minutes a day can get your baby up and moving. If you can’t stand exercising indoors, selecting a walking route that boasts rolling hills and walk at a brisk pace.
2. Bounce on a Ball
Exercise balls are great for your core strength. And, when you sit on one instead of a chair, your core is engaged constantly. You can also roll around on it, swaying side to side and promoting proper posture. The act of sitting upright, rather than laying down could stimulate your baby to move and shift.
Specifically, cat and cow poses. While yoga has numerous benefits to expecting mommies like posture, breath, and balance, these poses help shift baby around and prepare for proper alignment as well.
4. Butterfly Pulses
When you sit on the floor with your legs bent out to the side and your feet touching, start to “flutter” your legs up and down. Repeat this relaxing motion several times a day to promote posture and force your baby into a prime position.
5. Forward Leaning
This move can be a little risky, especially toward the end of your pregnancy, so always get your doctor’s approval before taking it on. Kneel at the end of your couch and brace your hands out to catch you as you slowly lean forward, keeping your back flat and hands on the floor.
Hang out in this position for about 30 seconds before pushing off and returning upright. Repeat this move several times, and fairly often throughout the day.
If you feel dizzy or lightheaded for any reason, at any time during the exercise, stop right away. This has been known as a high effective exercise to get your baby into prim delivery position.
What Could Happen If You're "Stuck"?
No one likes to be stuck into something that could potentially make their labor and delivery more difficult, but it does happen from time to time, so it’s best to be realistic and prepare in case this happens to you.
Because you’re in the know about belly mapping, you’re already headed in the right direction in regard to being positive and proactive. But you should also be in the know and understand what to expect if you do end up having a breech baby, or one that is not in ideal placement.
As I mentioned above, your doctor will most likely call for a c-section, so there’s no chance of birthing difficulties for either party. If your baby is not breech, but is also not to the left and anterior, you could experience some back labor.
Back labor happens when your baby’s head is pressed against your lower back. It can be felt intensely during contractions, and even in between contractions. If you’re not in the market for an epidural, good for you.
But, if you can’t take on the intense pain of a back labor, just be aware that the epidural may cause the baby to drop too soon and may lengthen your labor and be more difficult to push out.
It’s smart to talk to your doctor and have a plan in place, especially if you’re belly mapping with them and not having success.
You’ll need to learn about some other coping mechanisms if you do end up having a back labor and do not want to order an epidural.
It’s normal to want a smooth, natural childbirth.
And, proper placement of your baby helps you ensure this, as well as optimal comfort (and peace of mind) throughout your pregnancy.
If you want to try belly mapping, talk about it with your trusted healthcare professional today, and be sure to complete various, but productive exercises at home to help guide your baby into the ideal delivery position!
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