I became familiar with Jean Sutton's theories about optimal fetal positioning (OFP) about eight years ago, when I was searching for information about how to avoid posterior presentation. Her advice was like manna from heaven for a woman terrified of another excruciating back labor. She provided the formula for optimally positioning babies during pregnancy which leads to easier, more efficient, less painful labors. It involved lifestyle adjustments and minor inconveniences, but the pay-offs were well worth it to me. I partially attribute the ease of my second birth to OFP (10+ lb baby girl born at home after a nearly painless 90 minute labor).
I recently reacquainted myself with Jean Sutton's work because it is required reading for the Birth Works childbirth educator certification program I'm enrolled in.
The premise is simple. So simple, and yet crucial, that it's hard to believe OFP is not widely known and endorsed by every birth professional. And yet I know several Bradley instructors who've never heard of it, and I'm certain most obstetricians are unacquainted with it or there wouldn't be so many vacuum assisted deliveries and c-sections. My first midwife either didn't know, or failed to tell me. What a difference knowing would have made the first time around.
I believe all expectant mothers need to know how to practice optimal fetal positioning. What a shame that both of Sutton's books (Optimal Fetal Positioning and Let Birth Be Born Again) are out of print! It is well worth the expectant mother's time to locate a used copy of either book or to seek out childbirth educators, midwives, or doulas who can teach these crucial concepts.
My only reservations about Sutton's views stem from the fact that she focuses a lot on pelvis types--gynecoid, anthropoid, android, platypoid. She teaches that evaluating a woman's pelvic shape can help the midwife predict what kind of labor a woman will have. I'm not a midwife, but after eight years of reading and learning everything I can about birth, I know that many things influence labor, including the beliefs of the mother and everyone she surrounds herself with during birth. I've found midwife Jeannine Parvati Baker's views reassuring: barring malnourishment or congenital defect, every pelvis is a good pelvis. I think it is more helpful to focus on elements over which we have control: fostering healthy behaviors and empowering attitudes. Optimal Fetal positioning is an important addition to conscientious preparations for birth.