To feel your baby’s contour on your own it’s best to lie down and relax your abdominal muscles. Use your hands to gently press each side of your belly. One side may feel softer and more fluid than the other, usually an indication that it has more amniotic fluid. Your baby’s hands and feet are more likely to be on this softer side, while your baby’s back will be located on the side that feels firmer to the touch. If you move your hands closer to your pubic bone, you may feel something rather firm and smooth – that’s likely the baby’s head. When a baby is breech (buttocks first), you’re more likely to feel something hard and round at the top of the uterus (i.e., your baby’s head).
Feeling the position of your baby requires practice. It’s easier when you’re approaching your due date and harder if you’re overweight.
The next time you have a prenatal appointment, you can ask your healthcare provider to show you how “Leopold’s Maneuvers” are done. These help determine your baby’s position and are similar to the ones I’ve described. Your provider may be able to help you feel your baby’s body and head position. If it’s difficult for you or your doctor to palpate your baby’s orientation, an ultrasound can be used to ascertain your baby’s position.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.