Baby Lying Sideways In The Womb – Common FAQs Related To Transverse Lie Position
If you are pregnant, you must have been experiencing the amount of somersaults the baby does during this period. Before birth, the little one is in many different positions. However, most babies will come to normal head-down position before labor begins.
But some babies may be in a different position before labor starts and this could be frightening for many. If you have found your baby is lying transverse, there would be several questions running in your mind. We have outlined some of the most common.
What is Transverse Lie?
Baby presentation is referred to part or position of the baby leading the way down to the birth canal. In most of the cases, the crown of the head leads the way during labor and delivery. However, on certain occasions, the baby lie sideways or across in the womb.
In other words, where the baby’s feet is on one side of the mother and the face is on the other, like in a horizontal position. This is called transverse lie position. This may cause complications for the mother and the baby and when this happens, the back and shoulders of the baby cover the cervix of the woman. This also means the shoulder of the baby will lead the way to the birth canal which makes the vaginal delivery impossible.
Prevalence of transverse lie – How common it is?
The transverse lie presentation is found in 1 in 400 pregnancies. This is one of the rare labor and delivery complications. Transverse lie is more common in the earlier phase of pregnancy where there is plenty of space for the baby to move around. But very few babies will be at this position before delivery.
Causes – Why baby come in transverse position?
The baby may lie in a transverse position for various reasons. The most common reasons include:
- If there is abnormally high amount of amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) in the womb, it could lead to transverse lie position
- Flexibility of muscles that let the baby move around more freely and change position
- Twin pregnancies
- Uterine anomalies
- Uterine myomas
- The baby is premature or less than 34 weeks old
- Other health conditions such as placenta previa or bicornuate uterus (heart shaped uterus) that restricts baby’s movement
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Complications - Is there any problem if the baby lies in a transverse position?
It is absolutely normal for the baby to lie in this position till the mid-stage of pregnancy. However, the situation becomes a little worrisome in the final phases of the last trimester. In this period of time, the baby must be ready to pass through the pelvis and must come in a position where it can easily get through the birth canal.
If the baby is still lying across, then it could be a cause of concern. The main problem erupts when the water breaks (premature rupture of membranes). This may lead to:
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Restriction to blood flow and oxygen
- Prolonged labor which can lead to infections
- Uterine rupture
- Umbilical cord wrapping around the baby
- Cesarean delivery
If there is restriction to the blood flow and oxygen, then the baby has to be delivered without delay. And c-section remains the only emergency option in hand.
Diagnosis – How do I know my baby is in transverse position?
As you are in the last phase of your pregnancy, you would be regularly monitored by the doctor and midwives. They would be able to tell you the position of your baby through following ways:
The doctor or the midwife would place hands on the abdomen and know the position of the baby.
If the doctor is unable to tell the exact position of the baby by physical examination, the ultrasound can confirm that.
What’s the solution if the baby is in transverse position?
There are several factors that would determine the course of action. The baby can be rotated in the favorable position through following ways:
External cephalic version (CSV)
Women who are in initial stages of the labor can be suggested to go through external cephalic version. In this procedure, the doctor will try to manipulate the baby from outside. Some babies are easier to turn than the others. It may also depend on the location of the placenta or if you have had a baby earlier.
Forward leaning inversion
This procedure can bring back the baby’s head to down position. Kneel on the edge of your sofa and gently lean forward until the forearms are able to support your weight. There should be about 20-inch distance between your arms/shoulder and the hips. Now hold on to this position for 30-60 seconds and then slowly get back to the default position.
Try this exercise twice a day. But don’t forget to consult your doctor before trying this technique.
Some doctors also suggest changing the sleeping position. Pregnant women with transverse lie are told to sleep on the left side. It not only helps the baby comes into the right position but also improves its blood flow.
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What if baby can’t be turned successfully?
Most of the times, turning a baby remain unsuccessful, irrespective of how much you try. This is because of constantly changing position of the baby. If all measures are unsuccessful, then cesarean delivery is the only option remains in the hand.
Pregnancy is often filled with risks to the health of both the mother and the baby. That is why, if the baby is lying in transverse position, it can make most of the mothers worry. However, these things are handled by the team of the doctors as they are trained to give best possible output.
So if you have found that your baby is in transverse lie position, just relax and don’t take the stress. Most babies will come to the default birth position well before labor initiates. Talk to your doctor about how this problem can be solved.
1. Geoffrey Chamberlain and Philip Steer (1999, May 01). Unusual presentations and positions and multiple pregnancy read more
2. Fetal Positions for Birth (2014, September 09). Cleveland Clinic read more
3. Gemer and Segal (1994, March). Incidence and contribution of predisposing factors to transverse lie presentation read more
4. unstable lie of the fetus (2014, June 10). SA Health read more