Pregnancy - antenatal checks of your baby | Better Health Channel
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Pregnancy - antenatal checks of your baby

Summary

An unborn baby's position can be checked by abdominal palpation during an antenatal visit. A midwife or doctor uses the technique on a pregnant woman to determine if the baby is in breech or vertex (head down) position and check the baby's size and development.

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These diagrams show the position of the baby and demonstrate the technique of ‘abdominal palpation’ - which means to examine by touching and feeling. The midwife or doctor uses this technique during your antenatal visit to examine your baby’s development.

Baby in vertex - or 'head' down position.


Baby in vertex position
1. Assessing the height of the fundus (lower area of the baby) - seeing how many fingerbreadths below the xiphisternum (bottom of the woman’s sternum bone) the baby is laying.


Baby in vertex position
2. Assessing the size of baby and feeling for the baby's back and limbs.


Baby in vertex position
3. Pawlik's grip - the lower part of the uterus is grasped by the midwife to determine the presenting part.


Baby in vertex position
4. Pelvic palpation to determine the position of the baby's head.


Baby in vertex position
5. Measuring the height of the fundus which generally corresponds to the number of weeks of gestation


Baby in vertex position
6. Listening to the baby's heartbeat.

Baby in breech position - or 'bottom' down position.


1. Checking the height of the fundus (the highest point of the uterus). At 20 weeks this measurement is taken from the belly button. When the pregnancy is at term (37-40 weeks), it's taken from the lower end of the woman's sternum bone (the xiphisternum).



2. Assessing the baby's position and size. Feeling for the baby's head, back and limbs.



3. Using ‘Pawlik's grip’ to check that the baby's buttocks are in the pelvis.



4. Listening to the baby's heartbeat.



For more information
  • Contact the midwives at the Family Birth Centre at the Mercy Hospital for Women - Tel. (03) 9270 2222.

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Mercy Hospital for Women

(Logo links to further information)


Mercy Hospital for Women

Fact sheet currently being reviewed.
Last reviewed: May 2012

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An unborn baby's position can be checked by abdominal palpation during an antenatal visit. A midwife or doctor uses the technique on a pregnant woman to determine if the baby is in breech or vertex (head down) position and check the baby's size and development.



Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your qualified health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residence and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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