During one of our regular visits with a home birth midwife, we talked about my first birth (in the hospital, back labor, epidural, hours of pushing, cesarean, yadda, yadda, later to learn that the baby was posterior, or facing the wrong way, face up, as he tried to make his exit.) Recently, I told the midwife, I had heard a statistic that some 30 percent of all first births involve a posterior baby.
"Why is that?" I asked.
The answer seems to be a bit of a mystery but one thing is for sure: Posterior babies in general are becoming increasingly common. Perhaps that is because of our sedentary lifestyle, sitting at desks all day using poor posture, driving home in a car with bucket seats and then lounging on the couch at night...the baby settles into the mother's body as if it were laying in a hammock, its back curved against the slouch of the mother's spine, she explained.
Alarmed, I sat up as the midwife reached over to her shelf and handed me an older book called Optimal Foetal Positioning (I don't even think the book is in print anymore, but please correct me if I am wrong), written by a midwife and a childbirth educator, one of whom had been trained in engineering. They explain that if the mother sits forward and upright, the baby is nudged out of the hammock and will assume the proper position. I devoured the book and began to keep better posture immediately.
Of course it is tricky for a very pregnant woman to sit forward because the belly gets in the way. So I made it a habit of sitting in a very unladylike fashion, legs spread, belly pushed forward, sitting on the edge of my seat. I was pretty sure the technique was working, if for no other reason than I did not feel the same sort of back pain toward the end of my pregnancy that I had felt the first time.
The solution seemed so easy and so low-tech. If every pregnant woman in America could read this book, would the c-section rate still be more than 30 percent?
In the end, I wondered, would the book save me from having another posterior baby?