One word a pregnant woman does not want to hear is “breech”. When a pregnant woman is told that her baby is breech, it means her baby is in a position where his or her feet or butt are first to leave the uterus instead of head. In some cases, women can vaginally deliver a breech baby safely, but in today’s medical field, health care providers turn to cesareans instead.
A baby can be breech off and on throughout pregnancy without causing concern. But after 32 weeks, it is a good idea to try to re-position him or her if you want to avoid a cesarean. If he or she is still breech at 35 weeks, health care providers tend to worry, and if 37 weeks comes it is time to take action. The closer it gets to your due date, the less likely it is for your baby to flip, because there is not enough room in there to turn and move around.
Table of Contents
- Three Types of Breech Babies
- 9 Methods Can Be Tried at 32 Weeks or Later to Flip Your Baby
- 2 Techniques Should Not Be Tried Before 37 Weeks
Three Types of Breech Babies
1. Frank Breech
- The baby’s bottom faces the cervix and his or her legs are straight up. This is the most common type and in some cases can be delivered vaginally.
2. Footling Breech
- The baby’s feet are in the birth canal. This is the second most common type and is generally unsafe to deliver vaginally because of potential umbilical cord complications.
3. Complete Breech
- The baby’s bottom faces the cervix. His or hers legs are bent at the knees, and his or hers feet are near his or hers bottom. This is the least common type; these babies can sometimes be delivered vaginally.
9 Methods Can Be Tried at 32 Weeks or Later to Flip Your Baby
1. The tilt
- Using cushions placed on the floor or an ironing board propped up against the seat of your couch, lie with your hips elevated about a foot and a half above your head. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes three times a day, preferably when your baby is active and moving around.
2. The Webster Technique
- This technique is performed by your chiropractor, who uses gentle manipulation to try and flip the baby in the correct position.
- This is a homeopathic remedy that stimulates the uterus to settle baby headfirst. It’s best to see a naturopathic physician (N.D.) or a homeopath to try this method.
4. Water handstand
- Some people recommend you go to a nearby pool because water increases amniotic fluid. More room can mean more movement. Do a handstand in the water.
5. Breech Tilt
- This technique is like the Bridge Pose in yoga. If you are not sure the position of your baby, you do not want to do this technique. Just as it can turn breech baby head down, it could also turn a head down baby to breech baby.
6. Light & Temperature
- A baby responds to dark/light and hot/cold. Start by having someone place a flashlight at the base of your pelvis and sing, talk, and coax the baby downward. There are a lot of people that say this works, as baby instinctively moves towards the light and soothing sound. A baby also responds to temperatures. Many women place ice packs in the rib area and/or heating pads at the base of the pelvis to entice the baby to move downward.
7. Pelvic rotations
- Rotating the hips allows the pelvis to open up, creating more room for the baby to change position. You can perform these exercises standing or while sitting on a birthing ball. Rotate your hips in a circular movement 10 times in each direction. Repeat this exercise three times a day.
8. Back and forth
- Get into position on your hands and knees. You may wish to use pillows for comfort. Rock back and forth gently for up to 15 minutes, and repeat this up to three times a day. You could also try crawling forward on your hands and knees as a way of opening up your pelvis. If you’ve got the nesting instinct, wash your floors by hand.
- Walking is a great exercise during pregnancy, and can help to encourage the baby to shift position. Try to walk for 30 minutes each day throughout the pregnancy.
2 Techniques Should Not Be Tried Before 37 Weeks
1. External cephalic version
- Performed by either a doctor or midwife, re-positions the baby by pushing on the mom’s abdomen and the baby’s head. It’s like a deep abdominal massage. This can be very uncomfortable for some women, and in some cases medications may be give to help ease pain.
- A technique performed by acupuncturists, uses heat from a burning herb, mugwort, to stimulate an acupuncture point on the outside of the smallest toe; this increases fetal activity. Studies show that moxibustion is 30 percent to 36 percent more likely than other methods to make a baby turn head-down, with some small studies indicating that its success rate may be higher than 80 percent.
All of these methods used to get a breech baby to turn may work on some pregnant women and may not work at all on other women. There are many determining factors, including the baby’s size, the particular pregnant woman, the pregnancy in general, and how far along you may be.
If you are close to your due date, your baby is still breech, and you want to avoid a cesarean, surgery may be your only option unless you can find a health care provider who is qualified and willing to deliver him or her vaginally.
As always, make sure you have an open communication with your health care provider before trying any of these techniques to get a breech baby to turn. Make sure you are on the same page on what position your baby may be in. In some cases, if you use the wrong technique to flip or move the baby, it may make the conditions worse. Communication is key!