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Nearing the end of your pregnancy can be an exciting — and stressful — time. As you prepare for childbirth, you’ll hear about optimal baby positioning for labor.

In the weeks leading up to your delivery, your doctor can check to see what position your baby is in. Anterior, posterior, and breech are commonly known baby positions. A less well-known but still common position is the asynclitic position.

Here’s more on asyncliticism and what this means for your baby’s birth.

Asynclitism happens when the baby’s head is tilted or leaning to the side toward one of their shoulders. This might sound like it’s not very comfortable for your little one, but it’s common for babies to enter the pelvis like this and naturally shift into a more optimal birthing position.

If your doctor finds that your baby’s position is asynclitic, it might mean that you’ll have a longer labor time — or in some cases, you’ll need a bit more help in a medically assisted birth (such as a vacuum-assisted delivery). However, it’s also possible that baby might change position before birth.

Asynclitic baby positioning can happen for several reasons. Rest assured that it has nothing to do with anything you’ve done.

Asynclitism can happen if your baby has a shorter umbilical cord, or it could be due to the shape of your uterus. This baby position is also more likely to happen if you’re having twins or other multiples.

A healthcare professional can diagnose asynclitism with a vaginal examination along with an ultrasound shortly before or during labor. It’s important to have an accurate and timely diagnosis of asynclitism during labor.

The easiest way for a baby to pass through the birth canal is in a position called occiput anterior, where baby is facing your back and their head is down.

Checking their birthing position in the weeks and days before labor and during labor will help your doctor make sure that there are no birthing complications and that your delivery team is ready in case you need a medically assisted birth.

In a 2021 study with 92 pregnant women, asynclitism was found in 15 percent of them. It was more common in women having their first baby.

During labor, your baby may be in asynclitic position as they move around. This is fine in early labor and isn’t a cause for concern.

In some cases, asynclitism may slow down delivery. This is because your baby’s head is not in the ideal position to slide through the birth canal.

Overall, you may face a slower labor with asynclitism — dilation can take longer and the pushing stage is slower. You might also feel one-sided hip pain during labor and have less consistent contractions.

If a little gentle prodding and pulling doesn’t tilt your baby’s head from an asynclitic position, your doctor may recommend a cesarean delivery, commonly referred to as a C-section. This is to help keep you and your baby comfortable and safe.

In rare cases, babies who stay in the asynclitic position for too long may also have complications.

Torticollis is a condition where the baby’s head points to one shoulder while their chin points to the other shoulder. This is usually from muscle spasms or shortening of one of the neck muscles, the sternocleidomastoid.

However, torticollis usually goes away with treatment, and care for this condition is typically started shortly after birth.

If your doctor has medically cleared you, try some light exercises that you can safely do at home to help position your baby optimally for birth.

Some ways you can try to prepare for birth include:

Swimming and walking can also help you prepare for labor and help guide your baby into the right birthing position. Meditation and calming activities are great ways to mentally prepare yourself for birth, too.

If your baby is in the asynclitic position, be prepared and discuss a birthing plan with your partner and doctor well before your expected due date.

You can also try positioning massages, acupuncture, or visiting a chiropractor to assist with optimal baby positioning before birth. Check with your doctor before you try these or any other home remedies for baby positioning in the womb.

During labor and delivery

During labor, your doctor or nurse may recommend different exercises and positions for you to help nudge your baby out of the asynclitism position. Some people choose to have an experienced midwife and doula present during their delivery to assist with this.

During labor, a birthing ball can promote good positioning for your baby. Make sure to have someone assist you on and off the ball to avoid a tumble!

Also, remember to drink plenty of water or juice to stay hydrated during labor. This can help keep your contractions strong and your energy high.

If you’ve been pushing a few hours without much progress, your doctor may advise trying an assisted delivery. Although there are risks, your doctor will guide you through the methods and allow you to make the safest and most informed decision for you and your baby.

If a medical intervention isn’t working and complications do arise during your labor, your doctor may recommend birth via C-section. In most cases of asynclitism, you can try for a vaginal delivery and change to a C-section if your doctor advises that it’s best for you and your little one.

Asynclitism is a common baby position in the womb where baby’s head is tilted to one side. This means that their head isn’t in line with the birth canal.

In some cases, this can lead to birthing complications. But most of the time — although this isn’t the best position for labor — your medical team can gently nudge your baby into a more optimal position in an asynclitic delivery.