How do you know when your baby’s head is down?

As your pregnancy progresses, your baby will move into position for birth. One of the main things you want to know is if your baby is head down, meaning his or her head is pointed toward your pelvis. This is the ideal position for a vaginal delivery.

Knowing your baby’s position in the womb is important because it can influence your labor and delivery. If your baby is not head down by week 37 of pregnancy, he or she is considered breech. Breech babies may require a C-section delivery.

So how can you tell if your baby is head down? There are a few ways to find out your baby’s position as you get closer to your due date.

Ways to Determine Baby’s Position

Here are some of the main ways to know if your baby is head down and ready for birth:

Your Doctor Can Tell at Prenatal Visits

Your doctor or midwife can determine your baby’s position by feeling your belly during routine prenatal visits. They have experience detecting the hard round head low in the pelvis versus softer parts like the bottom or feet up high.

Starting around week 30, your provider will note your baby’s position at each visit and let you know if he or she is head down. If your baby is breech, your provider can discuss options for turning the baby.

You May Be Able to Feel the Head

As you reach the end of your third trimester, you may be able to feel the top of your baby’s head by touching your belly just above your pubic bone. The head feels hard and round.

Try gently pressing your lower abdomen just above your public hairline. If you can feel a hard lump there, it’s likely the crown of your baby’s head.

Lightening or Dropping Sensations

Many women experience “lightening” a few weeks before delivery as the baby’s head settles deep into the pelvis. This can relieve pressure on your ribs and lungs, making it easier to breathe.

You may also feel like the baby has “dropped.” Your bump may look lower and smaller as the baby’s head descends. These are signs your baby is engaged and ready for delivery.

External Cephalic Version

If an ultrasound shows your baby is breech, your doctor may try an external cephalic version (ECV). This is a technique to turn the baby head down by applying pressure on your belly.

Doctors can confirm the baby’s position with ultrasound immediately before and after the procedure. A successful ECV means the baby flipped and is now head down.

Ultrasound Scans

Routine ultrasounds at the end of your second trimester will likely check the baby’s position. These scans provide clear images showing whether your baby is head first or bottom first.

You may get another ultrasound around weeks 36-37 specifically to look at the baby’s position. These ultrasounds are very accurate at identifying breech or head down positions.

What If Your Baby is Breech?

If you learn your baby is breech, don’t panic. You have a few options:

External Cephalic Version

As mentioned above, your doctor can attempt an external cephalic version (ECV), which manually turns the baby head down from outside your belly. This is safe, low risk, and successful about 58% of the time.

Natural Techniques to Flip Baby

There are some natural techniques said to encourage a breech baby to turn, including:

-Pelvic tilts: Tilt your pelvis up while on your hands and knees
-Cold packs at the top of your belly
-Music played near your pubic bone
-Acupuncture or moxibustion
-Hypnosis
-Chiropractic adjustment

However, there is little evidence these methods work. Speak to your doctor before trying.

Planned C-Section

If your baby stays breech, a planned C-section is recommended because it is safer than attempting a vaginal breech delivery. Schedule this for week 39 if your baby remains breech.

External Cephalic Version

If your doctor determines a vaginal breech birth is safe, they will monitor you closely in labor and deliver the breech baby. However, this option is uncommon.

When to Worry About Baby’s Position

Here are some times when you should contact your doctor about your baby’s position:

After Week 37

If your baby is still breech after 37 weeks, talk to your doctor about your options to flip the baby. Leaving a breech baby in place too long reduces the chances of successful turning.

No Longer Feeling Movement in Usual Places

If you notice significantly less movement, especially if you no longer feel the hard head pressing against your pelvis, contact your provider. A change in movement could mean the baby flipped into an unsafe position.

Baby Was Head Down but Moves Less

Even if your baby was head down at a recent ultrasound, let your doctor know if you feel less regular movement. Babies can still flip into breech position late in pregnancy.

Back Pain

Intense lower back pain combined with feeling the baby move primarily on one side of your belly could indicate a transverse (sideways) lie. Call your doctor to check positioning.

No Longer “Light” and “Low”

If your belly suddenly feels heavier and looks like it has shifted up, your baby may have moved out of the pelvis. Contact your healthcare provider to confirm the position.

How to Encourage Baby Into a Head Down Position

While you can’t force your baby into a head down position, there are some safe ways to encourage your baby to flip before birth:

Pelvic Tilts and Rocking

Gently tilt your pelvis up and down on your hands and knees. This creates room in your pelvis for the baby to turn head down. You can also rock your hips back and forth.

Play Music Near Your Pelvis

Place headphones or a speaker playing music low on your belly near your pelvic region. Some babies will move toward the stimulus.

Shining a Light

Use a flashlight or lamp aimed near your vagina. Again, some babies may move toward the bottom of the uterus near the light.

Lay Upside Down

Lie with your hips elevated above your head for short periods of time, such as on an ironing board tipped upside down. This may encourage the baby to somersault into a head down position.

Float in a Pool

Floating in a pool on your back allows the baby to float upward into a head down position. This removes pressure from the pelvis so the baby can move more easily.

When to Call Your Doctor

Contact your healthcare provider right away if:

– You don’t feel the baby moving as much or notice a major change in activity
– You feel consistent, intense pain in your back or abdomen
– You don’t feel the baby’s head pressing against your pelvis by week 37
– Your doctor previously said the baby was head down but now you feel kicking up high
– You have any concerns about your baby’s positioning

If your water breaks and you haven’t had an ultrasound confirming the baby’s position, go to the hospital immediately. Do not wait for contractions to start if the baby’s position is unknown when your membranes rupture.

Conclusion

Knowing your baby’s position in the weeks before birth is very important to ensure a safe delivery. While most babies naturally turn head down, a breech position may require medical intervention. If your baby remains breech close to your due date, talk to your doctor right away about options to encourage the baby to flip before delivery. With the right information and care, you can help make sure your baby is in the optimal position to be born.

Leave a Comment