Comparing OA and OP labor patterns

There are differences seen in the labor pattern of an anterior baby and that of the posterior baby. These signals may help you determine whether a baby is in the occipital posterior position. These signals may also show up in labors where the baby has to get symmetrical for labor to progress, whether or not the long labor is caused by a posterior position.



These labor patterns describe labors for women with round or triangular pelvises.

Women with an anthropoid or oblong pelvis is longer front to back than side to side and can have a rather quick and straight forward posterior labor (24-32 hours, no extreme back pain, maybe no back pain, and no start and stop pattern, etc.

Enjoy the photos of this second time mother who shares her posterior labor. She did yoga every week and still had a posterior baby. Yet her added flexibility allowed her labor to progress steadily and helped baby to rotate in labor to an anterior position.

                           Anterior (ideal)            Posterior (sunny side up)

In latent labor:               Gradual onset                                 Start and stop pattern common

                                        Short contr.s that get longer         Contr.s can start very long
                                                                                                And get shorter later

                                        Mild contr.s get stronger               Can seem like transition in latent labor and get milder later






During Contractions

Raina does an abdominal lift and tuck through each of ten contractions.

Raina enjoys the break inbetween contractions!

This simple technique helped Raina's labor progress. She was happy to have her work done and her baby in her arms!

See more of Raina's birth pictures

in Real Stories



In early labor:               Manageable if not fearful                 Often no back labor yet

                                      Occasionally a 3-4 cm lull                  Strong contractions but dilation not more than 3-4 cm.
                                                                                                  for quite a while, hours often.

                                Time to 4 cm not clinically im-             Time to 4 cm can be 24 hrs
                portant, meaning healthy women                          if rotation needed to enter brim

                can eat; labor at home now, etc




In active labor:        Primip rotation typical at 5 cm            Rotation if roomy midpelvis

                                 5cm is an emotional time                      5 cm can be peak of pain if rotation happens then, trans can seem milder,

                                8 cm peak of labor pain                         Lull at 6 and  lip at 9,

                                Symmetrical contr pattern                     Contr.s double peak, cluster



Pushing:                  Lull of 5-30 min.s common                    Lull of one or several hours before urge to push at 10 cm        

                               Lull possible when flexion is slight         Contractions can be spaced far in long labor, mother could rest between 

                              and molding necessary
                               OK to curl back and tuck chin                Straight back, arched helps baby fit and descend better than a curled back!



A posterior labor is different than an anterior labor
The position of a "sunny-side up baby," one facing the front, is called occiput posterior. A posterior baby fits less easily than the anterior baby. A posterior baby's head seems bigger because of the angle it’s in when in the pelvis.

When a baby starts labor with his or her back on mother’s right, or along the mother's spine, labor may be longer, and sometimes may even need a doctor's intervention to finish the birth with Pitocin IV, a vacuum and/or by cesarean.

Other posterior babies come out with little fuss, like the labor portrayed here. A few babies don't even need to rotate to come out. They might even come out in just a few hours of labor. We can’t panic just because the baby is posterior. Most posterior babies turn around, rotate, to the anterior during labor.

You can do activities before and during labor that help the baby rotate sooner or more easily. These activities and techniques may even reduce the need for medical interventions. Not all, but most women will find benefits from applying this information. Remember to start with the 3-Principles.