Turning Your Breech Baby
In today's birth world a breech baby often means an automatic cesarean section. There is always slightly more risk with a breech birth than with a vertex (head down) birth. For this reason you may want to try turning your breech baby.
Breech means the baby's head is up. Vertex babies are head down. You can see a picture of this on the baby position page. Most babies are vertex, but some little ones just settlle into the breech position. It is possible to try and turn these babies.
The Pelvic Tilt
The most popular technique for turning a breech baby at home is the pelvic tilt exercise. The easiest way to do this is with an ironing board or a sturdy wood board or shelf. Take your board and lay it up against your couch or sofa. Make sure you go to the bathroom so your bladder is empty.
Arrange yourself on the board so your head is down and your bottom is up. Do this three times a day for around 20 minutes. It's a good time to listen to music or try some relaxation conditioning. Imagine that your baby is turning as you do this.
You can also use a stack of pillows up under your bottom – just make sure you've got it up in the air at least 12 inches or so!
Watch Your Positioning
It's important to always watch your position. Sit up up straight – don't recline back in chairs. Sitting on a birth ball is a good idea, because it causes your body to stay in a good position and encourages your baby to maintain good positioning.
Reader ‘Bin sent in a tip her midwives gave her – drape yourself over your birth ball, so you're on all fours but supported by the birth ball. This helps you maintain a beneficial “hands and knees” position while still being able to relax somewhat. It helps keep baby well-positioned.
Swimming and handstands are both reported to help turn breeches. Several midwives note that relaxing in the water and then doing a few handstands under the water seems to encourage turning a breech baby. In the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year Susan S. Weed notes this is the most successful way she has seen to turn breeches.
In one birth story in Spiritual Midwifery, Evan's Story, mama Mona reports that she went swimming for several hours, doing long laps. At her prenatal the next day her midwives discovered her baby had turned to a completely vertex position.
Having a Baby, Naturally notes a moxibustion technique that has been known to help breech babies turn. Editor Peggy O'Mara is careful to note that this is usually only done by experienced acupunturists. The Wise Woman Herbal also comments on the effectiveness of this technique and suggests a shiatsu therapist may also be able to perform it.
If you feel a lot of movement go in and have your baby's position checked. A sleepless night with lots of baby movement could be a clue that your baby has shifted – my cousin experienced this and went in to her appointment the next day to discover her son had done a full 180 degree turn!
One final procedure to consider is external version. This technique involves your care provider physically turning your baby with his or her hands. Baby's heart tones should be monitored throughout the procedure. Sometimes ultrasound is used to help see where the baby is.
Relax completely and visualize your baby moving during the external version. It may be uncomfortable for you. Most but not all babies will stay head down after this is done – usually around 36 to 37 weeks.
Research carefully if your baby appears to want to stay breech. Not many doctors are willing to deliver a breech baby vaginally but in most cases it can be done. Talk with your midwife or doctor and consider techniques you can use to encourage your baby to turn. Talk to your baby, too.
Click here for the Ultimate Guide to Baby Position in the Womb
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