Towards the end of your pregnancy your baby's position in the womb will become more important, as he settles and space to move becomes more restricted.The position is sometimes referred to by medical staff as the way that the baby is 'presenting'.
Your baby's ultimate presentation will affect the kind of labour and birth you have. His position will be noted at antenatal checks over the last trimester of pregnancy, so ask your midwife if you have any queries about what the position means for your birth options.
Here's how to understand the medical shorthand on your notes:
Anterior: the optimum (and most common) presentation is when your baby's head is facing your spine and his spine is facing outwards.
Posterior: if his spine is facing your spine this is known as 'posterior'position and can lead to a more prolonged labour and one where you have a lot of backache.
Transverse: this means that the baby is lying across the womb, with neither head nor feet pointing down. A caesarean section will be required if the baby does not change position.
Oblique: the baby is lying across the womb on the diagonal.
Breech: the baby's head is not pointing downwards but is rather at the top of the womb, with his bottom pointing downwards. See our section on breech babies in Birth - Special circumstances - breech delivery.
Abbreviations on your notes such as ROA or LOA refer to where the back of your baby's head - known as the 'occiput' - is in relation to your body; on the right or the left, to the front (anterior) or back (posterior). For example, LOA means that the back of his head is to the front on your left.
Many babies rotate into the best position themselves and there are also exercises you can do to get your baby into the best position for birth. Generally it helps if when you sit you choose more upright positions where your hips are higher than your knees. Sitting in a low chair where your knees are higher than your hips makes it harder for your baby to settle head down with his spine towards your tummy.
Contact your local branch of the NCT (click on the home page), who may be able to put you in touch with an antenatal teacher who can answer your questions on how to help your baby into the optimum position. NCT Maternity Sales also sells a book on 'Understanding and teaching optimal foetal positioning'. To find out more click on 'shop' or call 0870 112 1120.