- Leopold's maneuvers
obstetrics, Leopold's Maneuvers are a common and systematic way to determine the position of a fetusinside the woman's uterus.
maneuvers consist of four distinct actions, each helping to determine the position of the fetus. The maneuvers are important because they help determine the position and presentation of the fetus, which in conjunction with correct assessmentof the shape of the maternal pelviscan indicate whether the delivery is going to be complicated, or whether a Cesarean sectionis necessary.
The examiner's skill and practice in performing the maneuvers are the primary factor in whether the fetal lie is correctly ascertained, and so the maneuvers are not truly
diagnostic. Actual position can only be determined by ultrasoundperformed by a competent technicianor professional.
Performing the maneuvers
Leopold's Maneuvers are difficult to perform on obese women and women who have
hydramnios. The palpationcan sometimes be uncomfortable for the woman if care is not taken to ensure she is relaxed and adequately positioned. To aid in this, the health care providershould first ensure that the woman has recently emptied her bladder. If she has not, she may need to have a straight urinary catheterinserted to empty it if she is unable to micturateherself. The woman should lay on her back with her shoulders raised slightly on a pillow and her knees drawn up a little. Her abdomenshould be uncovered, and most women appreciate it if the individual performing the maneuver warms their hands prior to palpation.
While facing the woman,
palpatethe woman's upper abdomen with both hands. A professional can often determine the size, consistency, shape, and mobility of the form that is felt. The fetalhead is hard, firm, round, and moves independently of the trunk while the buttocksfeels softer, is symmetric, and has small bony processes; unlike the head, it moves with the trunk.
After the upper
abdomenhas been palpated and the form that is found is identified, the individual performing the maneuver attempts to determine the location of the fetal back. Still facing the woman, the health care provider palpates the abdomen with gentle but also deep pressure using the palms of his or her hands. First the right hand remains steady on one side of the abdomen while the left hand explores the right side of the woman's uterus. This is then repeated using the opposite side and hands. The fetal back will feel firm and smooth while fetal extremities (arms, legs, etc.) should feel like small irregularities and protrusions. The fetal back, once determined, should connect with the form found in the upper abdomen and also a mass in the maternal inlet, lower abdomen.
Third maneuver: Pawlick's Grip
In the third maneuver the health care provider attempts to determine what fetal part is lying above the inlet, or lower abdomen. The individual performing the maneuver first grasps the lower portion of the abdomen just above the
symphysis pubiswith the thumband fingers of the right hand. This maneuver should yield the opposite information and validate the findings of the first maneauver. If the woman enters labor, this is the part which will most likely come first in a vaginal birth. If it is the head and is not actively engaged in the birthing process, it may be gently pushed back and forth.
The last maneuver requires that the health care provider face the woman's feet, as he or she will attempt to locate the fetus'
brow. The fingers of both hands are moved gently down the sides of the uterustoward the pubis. The side where there is the resistance to the descent of the fingers toward the pubis is greatest is where the browis located. If the head of the fetus is well flexed, it should be on the opposite side from the fetal back. If the fetal head is extended though, the occiputis instead felt and is located on the same side as the back .
Leopold's maneuvers are intended to be performed by health care professionals, as they have received training and instruction in how to perform them. That said, as long as care is taken not to roughly or excessively disturb the fetus, there is no real reason it cannot be performed at
homeas an informational exercise. It is important to note that all findings are not truly diagnostic, and as such ultrasoundis required to conclusively determine fetal lie.
* [http://www.prenhall.com/olds Maternal-Newborn Nursing & Women's Health Care, 7th Edition]
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