Cardinal Movements of Labor

The cardinal movements of labor are the rotations of the baby as he moves through the pelvis. During labor, the baby must make specific rotations so that the widest diameters of his head and shoulders will match the widest diameter of the pelvis. The uterine contractions move the baby down the pelvis as he follows the path of least resistance. When the baby enters the pelvis, his head faces sideways in the pelvis. As he moves down the pelvis during labor, his head turns so that by the time you are ready to push, he is looking at your back. This also places his shoulders in correct alignment to enter the pelvis. After the baby’s head is delivered, his head rotates again to look at your thigh so that his shoulders are lined up to come under the pubic bone.