“Hmmm…this feels like a head. Wait! Isn’t my baby’s head supposed to be ‘down there??’ I think my baby’s breech!”
If you find yourself in this situation, first of all, don’t stress! The majority of babies turn head-down by the third trimester; of those that haven’t, the majority of them will head for the exit sign by the time labor commences. Keep your chin up and believe that your baby will turn head-down.
That being said, often times a pregnant mama with a breech baby is told by her practitioner that her only options are waiting and then later attempting an external cephalic version (ECV). There are a myriad of techniques and methods that can gently encourage your little one to turn head-down before resorting to more invasive procedures.
- Gravity is your friend! Some of the most common, gentle breech techniques use gravity in advantageous ways. Breech tilts involve the mother laying on her back with her pelvis lifted higher than her head. There are a number of ways to achieve this, but one of the easiest methods is using an ironing board or weight lifting bench propped up on a low piece of furniture. The mother then assumes this position several times per day, for up to 20 minutes at a time, and continues for 2-3 weeks or until baby flips. Inversions are similar to breech tilts. With inversions, the mother’s pelvis is still lifted higher than her head but she does this in a hands-and-knees position. Inversions are done for much shorter time spans, usually 30-60 seconds, at least a couple times per day for several weeks.
- Get in the Water! Rather than using gravity, water can work to turn breech babies because of the reduction of gravitational forces on the body. All a mama has to do is jump in the pool and have fun! Handstands and somersaults in the pool, as well as general face-down swimming, are all encouraged for mamas with a breech baby. How does it work? Sometimes a breech baby who is low in the pelvis is able to lift their body up high enough in the uterus to flip, once they are in a lower gravity field. And hey, that reduction in gravity feels GREAT to mama’s body, too! (Due in the colder months? Head on over to your local indoor pool!) Check out this video of a mama using the water to flip her baby.
- Hot Packs, Ice and Music These are also very simple breech methods that have worked for many mothers and they won’t cost you a thing. While lying down, place a cold pack at the top of your uterus. Then place a warm pack at the base of your uterus, right above your pubic bone. Babies don’t like to cold and will sometimes turn head-down simply to get away from it! Some mamas have also placed headphones at the base of their uterus and babies have moved toward the music.
- The Webster Technique, Moxibustion and Acupuncture These non-invasive methods all involve the use of highly skilled, trained practitioners and they are known to have high success rates of turning breech babies, especially when combined with the use of the other techniques described above. To learn more about these methods, check out these links:
Lastly, if a mother’s baby is still breech after trying a combination of low-tech and high-tech methods, I would encourage her to look into vaginal breech birth before automatically accepting a cesarean. Many breech babies can be safely born vaginally with the support of a practitioner skilled in breech births. The benefits and risks of vaginal breech birth versus a c-section need to be carefully considered. Mamas, get educated to make informed decisions for yourself and your baby!
By Expert Mommy, Sarah Baker