Before childbirth, the baby is positioned in the mother’s pelvis. The most common position is so-called anterior position; the baby is head down and its face is facing mother’s back. This position allows the easiest passage through the birth canal. The may also be in one of several other (abnormal) positions that may, in some cases, cause prolonged labor or even birth with a forceps or Caesarean section.
Two common abnormal positions of the fetus are the posterior and breech. In posterior position, the baby is head down, but the face is facing mother’s belly. In this case, the pregnant woman is likely to feel severe back pain, and delivery is likely to be quite prolonged. It may be necessary to deliver the baby with a forceps or Caesarean section.
In breech position (which is common in premature birth), the legs of the baby are facing down. In this case, the head of the baby is very sensitive to the pressure while it is passing through the birth canal.
In some cases of breech position, the obstetrician may be able to turn the baby from the outside – by touching it through the abdomen – into a normal position in the last few weeks of pregnancy. If he is unable tu turn the baby, and the mother is young and healthy, the obstetrician will let the childbirth begin naturally and prepare for a Caesarean section if the delivery is difficult or prolonged.
Other forms of abnormal positions are very rare. If they occur, birth is usually performed by Caesarean section, rarely with the forceps, and the mother gets general anesthesia.