Is it Possible to Turn a Breech Baby?
If your pregnancy is like most, at some point in your third trimester your unborn baby will flip over into a head-down position. They may stay that way for the remainder of the pregnancy, or swim around a bit for a few weeks until they finally get into position for delivery. But if you are part of the 4% of pregnancies where this doesn't happen, you likely get to experience a little jolt of shock when you hear the words “breech baby!” Is there anything you can do to get a breech baby to flip? Let's find out.
What's the Big Deal About a Breech Baby?
A breech baby doesn't necessarily have to be a big deal, but the reason that it throws off most women who are planning a vaginal delivery is that in the United States almost all breech babies are born via Cesarean section. This is due to the fact that medical providers are no longer being taught in most medical schools the special skills required to help with the labor and delivery of breech babies. Since breech deliveries come with their own set of different risks, it definitely makes sense to narrow your birthing options between a Cesarean or a vaginal delivery with a provider specially-trained and highly experienced in breech (tough to find!). Unless, that is, we can get that baby to turn head-down on their own...
Urban Legends for Turning Breech Babies
While there isn't much scientific data to back up these techniques, plenty of parents swear by them. Your baby can hear your voice and feel your touch while in the womb, so why not attempt to stimulate their movements as well? You can try talking and singing to your baby, low on your abdomen. You can try using heat or cold packs on your belly. Some parents have even tried shining a flashlight on their lower abdomen in hopes of attracting their baby to turn toward it. Whether or not these techniques will actually work, they are completely safe and there's no reason you can't be playful with your unborn baby!
Positioning Tricks to Help a Breech Baby
There are several different positions that you can try, which may encourage your baby to turn head-down. These should only be tried if you have a confirmed breech baby in late pregnancy. The Breech Tilt is easy, and the most common. It is done by propping an ironing board up on your couch, and lying on it with your head on a pillow and your legs up on the couch around the board. Midwives recommend trying this three times per day, for about twenty minutes each time. Some of the other positions to try would include forward-leaning inversions, side-lying release, and open-knee-chest. To read instructions and see helpful photos and videos of all of these positions, please click here to read Spinning Babies on Breech Positioning! https://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/techniques/other-techniques/breech-tilt/
Clinical Methods of Turning a Breech Baby
If positions don't seem to coax your baby to flip over, you might need to open your mind to some other modalities. Many pregnant women, breech or no, visit prenatal chiropractors for their overall health and comfort. However, receiving a Webster Technique adjustment from a certified prenatal chiropractor may give you an 80% or higher chance of helping your baby turn. The Webster Technique helps relieve any intrauterine restrictions which are keeping your baby from moving around comfortably, and is safe and effective.
Visiting a licensed acupuncturist is next on the to-do list. An acupuncturist can perform the moxibustion technique, which involves burning a special herbal blend near certain pressure points on the body. The warmth and stimulation from the herbs can produce increased activity in the baby, which combined with the positioning tricks and other techniques, just may establish the right atmosphere for your baby to turn around.
External Cephalic Version
If all of these safe and non-medical methods of turning breech babies should fail, there is still an option remaining before scheduling a Cesarean section. Your OB-GYN can perform an external cephalic version, which is an attempt to manually manipulate the baby's position from outside the womb. This procedure can be uncomfortable, and your doctor may wish to perform the process in hospital and monitor the baby the whole time just in case. However, an ECV does have good success rates and may help you stay on your plan of having a vaginal delivery, so if it comes down to it please have a conversation with your doctor about the benefits, risks, and potential success rate of an external cephalic version.
A breech baby is definitely a bit of a surprise, but it doesn't have to mean the end of your birth plan. You can try all of these methods and one of them just may work! If not, there could be a very good reason that your baby is in the breech position. Babies are wise, and sometimes we have to work with them – and not the other way around. Whether you end up giving birth vaginally or via Cesarean, your Happy Mommy, Happy baby doulas are here to help make it a positive, low-stress, and empowering experience for you and your family.