There's only one way out of the womb, but some babies are a little off course. Around 4% of babies wind up in breech positions; this means their butts or their feet are positioned down to come out first through the cervix. It’s rare that your baby will assume this position, but it can happen.
Babies twist, turn and move all around the womb. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, the living quarters of the uterus becomes cramped. As early as week 32 and as late as week 38, most babies have settled into a head-down position, but some don’t. If your baby takes on a breech presentation, the position may be one of these three common types:
A frank breech baby is positioned buttocks down towards the cervix, but the legs and feet point upwards towards the baby’s head. This is the most widely recognized breech position.
The complete breech position sees the baby’s bottom down, with the head up, and the legs crossed.
When the baby is positioned feet-first out of the uterus, this is called a footling breech position.
What do you do if you’re close to your due date, and your baby still isn’t headed in the right direction? Check out these 7 ways to flip the position of a breech baby.
The chances are good that your infant will be head-down by your estimated due date. Most breech babies re-position before delivery. But if your little one is still primed to come out bottom first, your medical team can help.
Your baby’s position can be inverted with a little push. Your obstetrician or midwife can perform an external cephalic version (ECV). It is also simply known as “version.”
First, medication will be prescribed to relax your uterus. Second, the doctor or midwife will locate the baby’s head. With hands-on pressure on the outside of your abdomen, the baby’s head is gently, but firmly, pushed downwards. Your medical practitioner will usually wait until the 37th week to perform an ECV.
It’s possible that a baby will revert to a breech position after a successful ECV. This procedure can be performed a second time, but it becomes more difficult as the delivery date nears.
There are reasons for wanting to change the position of a breech baby. For instance, if a baby’s feet are positioned to come out first, there is a chance your baby could become tangled in the umbilical cord. A breech baby can make a vaginal birth difficult, and sometimes impossible.
There are risks involved with a breech presentation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your child is in danger. If a baby is breech throughout the pregnancy, there is no cause for concern. After week 32, it might be a good idea to get your baby in the correct position. The closer the delivery date, the smaller the wiggle room, leaving less chance for your baby to flip.
One method to help your baby’s head ease on down is to play music through headphones. Place the headphones low on your belly so that your baby will follow the source. Your partner can also help by talking to the baby near the bottom of your bump.
For extra measure, place a cold object at the top of your uterus. Since infants enjoy comfort and warmth, a baby will want to escape a chilly sensation. Place a bag of frozen vegetables in a sock at the highest point of your stomach, and see if your baby’s head scooches to the other end.
Sometimes, breech positions are due to the alignment of a woman’s pelvic bones. An injury from a fall or even routine pressing of a gas pedal can cause an asymmetry of the uterus. To open up the passageway, women will need to see a chiropractor instead of an obstetrician.
The Webster technique is another alternative to help your baby flip. It’s a chiropractic method that adjusts misaligned joints. The sacrum is a vertebra at the base of the spinal column. If it’s misaligned, it can reduce the amount of room in the uterus, restricting the developing baby’s movements.
A qualified chiropractor can align the ligaments of the sacrum. By loosening the pelvic bones, a breech baby can assume a headfirst position. If the bones are not in the way, the baby has more room to maneuver.
With no harm to the fetus and a high success rate, the Webster technique offers safe and effective benefits that can help turn a breech baby.
Persuading your baby to turn can be done using alternative therapies, such as Moxibustion. This treatment is an Ancient Chinese medicine that involves burning moxa sticks. These cigar-shaped herbal remedies are made from the mugwort plant.
When the sticks are lit, they burn without a flame. The hot ends of the sticks are placed close to the outside of the baby toes, without touching the skin. The heat should be focused on the toes for 20 minutes. Within minutes, your baby should start to kick.
For best results, keep the heat as hot as you can endure. Be very careful with lit moxa sticks because the intense heat can cause burns if they touch your skin.
Moxibustion is effective and safe. This approach has proven to be successful in turning breech babies before delivery.
There are many natural ways to flip a baby into the optimal birth position. Experts agree that you can encourage your baby to move his or her head down using self-hypnosis. Meditation can provide a positive mindset while guiding your baby in a way that is virtually effortless.
Meditation is a deep mental relaxation. The goal is to eliminate all external thoughts and distractions. A regular release of anxiety will make room for your little one in every way—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The reason why meditation may work for you is the simple fact that you have to relax. Instead of forcing something to happen, you surrender and allow nature to take its course. If you have a hard time letting go and tuning into your body, a guided meditation can help you begin.
In case your little one doesn’t flip naturally, there are exercises that can encourage a breech baby to turn. There are many variations of this exercise, and all of them include lifting the pelvis above the head.
Tilting uses gravity that can assist your baby to flip head down. Lie on your back, with your arms by your side. Bend your knees, keep your feet on the floor, and prop firm pillows under your hips and butt.
If this position is uncomfortable, use the assistance of an ironing board. Place one side of the board on the floor and the other side on the couch. Make sure the board is steady before resting your full weight. Place your head at the bottom of the board, and your feet at the top.
Remember to relax, breathe deeply, and avoid tense muscles. Perform this exercise for 20 minutes a day on an empty stomach. It will increase your chances of turning a breech baby to lie in the opposite direction.
Another exercise you can try at home involves getting down on your hands and knees. For about 10 minutes a day, try rocking back and forth on all fours. This action should open up your uterus and give your infant space to turn around.
A more effective way to open up the uterus is to rest your forearms and head on a pillow with your butt up in the air. Incorporate a cat stretch by rounding your back and pointing your butt to the ground. Again, do this exercise on an empty stomach so your baby will be more active.
Rocking on all fours is a natural way to move a baby’s head down. Stretching provides rotation space your little one will need.
The truth is, some babies are not going to turn, but stay positive. As long as you have your doctor’s permission, you can experiment with ways to get your baby out of a breech position.