- The initial maneuver involves the examiner placing both of his or her hands on each upper quadrant of the patient's abdomen and gently palpating the fundus with the tips of the fingers to define which fetal pole is present in the fundus. If it is the fetus' head, it should feel hard and round. In a breech presentation, a large, nodular body is felt.
- The second maneuver involves palpation in the paraumbilical regions with both hands by applying gentle but deep pressure. The purpose is to differentiate the fetal spine (a hard, resistant structure) from its limbs (irregular, mobile small parts) to determinate the fetus' position.
- The third maneuver is suprapubic palpation by using the thumb and fingers of the dominant hand. As with the first maneuver, the examiner ascertains the fetus' presentation and estimates its station. If the presenting part is not engaged, a movable body (usually the fetal occiput) can be felt. This maneuver also allows for an assessment of the fetal weight and of the volume of amniotic fluid.
- The fourth maneuver involves palpation of bilateral lower quadrants with the aim of determining if the presenting part of the fetus is engaged in the mother's pelvis. The examiner stands facing the mother's feet. With the tips of the first 3 fingers of both hands, the examiner exerts deep pressure in the direction of the axis of the pelvic inlet. In a cephalic presentation, the fetus' head is considered engaged if the examiner's hands diverge as they trace the fetus' head into the pelvis.
When the baby is anterior, the back feels hard and smooth and rounded on one side of your tummy, and you will normally feel kicks under your ribs. Your belly button (umbilicus) will normally poke out, and the area around it will feel firm. When the baby is posterior, your tummy may look flatter and feel more squashy, and you may feel arms and legs towards the front, and kicks on the front towards the middle of your tummy. The area around your belly button may dip in to a concave, saucer-like shape.
If you feel the baby move, try work out what body part was moving. Remember that heads feel hard and round, while bottoms feel soft and round! It may take a lot of concentration and trying to work things out at first, but you soon get the hang of it. You may find it easier to feel your baby's position if you lie on your back with your legs stretched flat out.
If your baby is posterior, you may find that you suffer backache during late pregnancy (of course, many women suffer backache then anyway). You may also experience long and painful 'practice contractions' as your baby tries to turn around in order to engage in the pelvis.