If you’ve been told that your baby is breech, don’t freak out. There are many ways to gently and lovingly ease your baby into vertex.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the baby settles into its favorite position. Ideally, this position is vertex, meaning that its head is down towards your pelvis and its bottom is high up in your abdomen.
Less commonly, the baby is breech (with its head up and its bottom down towards your pelvis). Even more rarely, the baby sits in a transverse position (with its head and bottom on either side of your abdomen).
It’s not always known why a baby is breech or transverse. Sometimes it has to do with:
Relationship between the shape of the baby and the shape of mom’s uterus or pelvic bones
Location of the placenta
Issues with the umbilical cord
Excessive amniotic fluid
Lax abdominal or uterine muscle tone
Labor and delivery carry more risk of complications when the baby’s head is not down towards the pelvis, even though breech is a variation of normal. So, when a baby is breech or transverse by the 30th week of pregnancy they should be encouraged to convert to the ideal vertex position. That said, the majority do turn by themselves at the beginning of the ninth month.
What to do When Baby is Breech or Transverse
If your baby is breech or transverse at 30 weeks, consider doing a couple of the following exercises 10-15 minutes 2-3 times each day until your baby turns.
Belly massage. Massage your abdomen GENTLY in the natural direction the baby will turn. But stop if you meet any resistance, and never attempt to forcefully turn the baby yourself.
Visualization. Close your eyes and imagine your baby with his or her head moving down in your pelvis.
Coaxing. Play classical or relaxing instrumental music by your pelvis, so that the baby will turn towards the soothing sound. Or shine a flashlight by your pelvis, so that the baby may move towards the light.
Go for a swim. Swim laps and do some handstands in the pool.
Pelvic rocking. Shift your pelvis up and down and side to side while on your hands and knees.
Act like an elephant. Walk around the house on your hands and feet.
Bridges and inversions. If you have an established yoga practice, go upside down with any of the inversions, using props for supportive modifications. Headstands and downward-facing dogs work wonders.
Beginners should start with bridges. To do this, simply lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor approximately 1 ½ - 2 feet apart and your knees bent. Elevate your hips 9-12 inches higher than your shoulders. You can support yourself in bridge with a yoga block under your sacrum.
Alternatively, lie on your front in the same “upside down” position, keeping your weight on your forearms and knees wide, with your bottom in the air. Lying on three pillows or a beanbag chair can help further elevate your hips.
Or, lie bent over the edge of a sofa or top of a staircase with your legs on the floor and your body lying down the sofa or stairs. Support your body with your hands or forearms so that your torso is inclined upside down.
Gently roll your hips side to side while in any of these positions.
Taking homeopathic Pulsatilla 30C will help the above exercises be more successful. Allow 4-5 pellets to dissolve under your tongue 3 times daily for 3-5 days. As with any homeopathic remedy, avoid eating or drinking for 15-20 minutes before and after.
Natural Medicine for Breech and Transverse Babies
In addition to exercises that help your baby move into the best birth position, there are a few techniques that can be administered by care providers. If you’ve tried the above suggestions without success, look for a practitioner that practices one of the following.
Find an Acupuncturist or Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine who has had success turning breech babies to vertex with moxibustion. The technique involves burning certain herbs close to the skin at specific acupuncture points.
A chiropractor trained in the Webster Technique can use this sacral adjustment to help facilitate the pelvic alignment needed for your baby to get into birth position.
If all else fails, you can opt for having your baby turned manually if the right conditions are met (such as no cord around the baby’s neck or short cord, adequate amniotic fluid, and healthy baby as detected on ultrasound with a normal fetal heart beat). Sometimes this is can be easily done in your birth practitioner’s office at 34 -36 weeks, especially in a woman who has delivered vaginally before, while carefully assessing the baby’s heartbeat.
Experienced midwives can turn breech and transverse babies. Most obstetricians prefer to do it in the hospital, often with medication to relax your uterus, ultrasound guidance, and continuous fetal heart monitoring.
Ask for a wedge pillow to support you in a tilted pelvic lift position, or a bed that can be placed at an angle, with your legs higher than your head to help baby out of pelvis.
Once the baby is turned to the head down position, stop inverting yourself, wear an abdominal binder at all times to prevent the baby from turning back to breech. Bellefit makes a fine one. as pictured below.
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If your baby insists on being breech as you approach your due date, discuss your options with your provider. If they are not supportive of your choices for a vaginal breech birth, find a different practitioner, optimally one who has the essential skills and philosophy of birthing breech babies vaginally when appropriate and safe to do so.
A baby lying in the transverse position, however, can only be delivered safely by cesarean section.
For more information on having the birth of your dreams, check out my Love Your Birth Online Course.
If you desire personal guidance, schedule an online or in person consultation with me.