What does it mean when the doctor says the baby is in a transverse position?

Transverse position is a very serious presentation for your baby.  When the baby is transverse, it means that your baby is laying across your tummy instead of the normal head down position.  There are several causes for this transverse presentation.  It is quite common where the womb is large and of poor tone, as in women who have had many babies, it also can occur in a similar situation where there is excessive birth fluid, or a multiple pregnancy.  If the afterbirth is lying very low, covering the lower area of the womb, a transverse lie can also develop. In very rare cases, there may even be an abnormal development of the womb, which therefore prevents the baby from assuming the accepted position, or there may even be a reduced size of the bony birth canal – the pelvis- that will also encourage a transverse lie. Large fibroids in this lower part of the womb can also have a similar effect.

A persisting transverse lie would typically necessitate a Cesarean section.  Your physician may be able to attempt an external version to turn your baby into a more favorable position for birth.  This procedure involves the physician moving the baby manually from the outside while using ultrasound to monitor the baby’s movement.  There is some risk in an external version, because it is possible that it could cause the placenta to detach from the wall of the uterus.  However, this risk is fairly low, and an external version is most often successful and will help avoid a cesarean section.

Keep in mind that sometimes nothing will get a baby to turn, or a baby will be stubborn and turn back into the previous position after having turned head-down.  For this reason, it is important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the possibility of a cesarean section. Women who are prepared ahead of time for the possibility of a medically necessary cesarean section report having a more positive birth experience than those who thought that "it wouldn’t happen to me."



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