MadSci Network: Development

Re: Inside of a human mother's stomach, why is a baby positioned upside down?

Date: Thu Feb 8 12:27:41 2001
Posted By: Stephen A. Butler, Post-doc/Fellow, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of New Mexico
Area of science: Development
ID: 978241088.Dv

Hi Sara, 

Nice question but unfortunately this is not always the case! The reason 
the baby (or fetus) is normally positioned upside down in its mothers 
(or uterus) is simply because it is a better position for birth – head 
first. In fact for the first six months of pregnancy the fetus is upright 
and turns over in preparation to be born! The ideal position is head-
first, so the shoulders can follow and then the rest is easy. In one 
complication of birth the baby can be “breach” which means that he/she is 
feet-first! Usually because something prevented him/her turning over 
he/she was supposed to. If the baby is this way round it is easier for 
legs and arms to get stuck or twisted and complicate the birth. Being 
upside down is natures way of ensuring that the baby is born without any 
harm to itself or the mother. Remember though, that the fetus doesn’t 
which way is up or down because it floats surrounded by a watery liquid 
called “amniotic fluid”. So it is not as if he/she is doing a headstand 
for the last 10-12 weeks of pregnancy, because the fluid supports his/her 

Hope this answers your question, and keep asking more!

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