Ways to Turn a Breech Baby
What is a Breech Baby?
In pregnancy a breech baby is when the baby is facing bottom down. As the baby grows inside the uterus, the normal position is head down (vertex). As the baby grows it will also get into position to prepare for birth at 40 weeks.
But some babies turn around and go into a breech position. They can do this in the earlier stages and turn around again, but not in every case. Although only around 4% of babies are born breech it is an idea to monitor the baby and decide on a birth plan.
The baby can re-position itself very late on in pregnancy but if there are no signs of it moving, a decision will need to be made.
Babies can be delivered vaginally when they are breech, but you will need a good team of medical staff to help. A very experienced obstetrician who has been trained in delivering breech babies would need to be on hand, as well as a paediatrician to monitor the baby after birth.
In recent years it is normal to discuss a cesarean section, where the baby is delivered surgically. As there is a risk of complications during a natural labour when the baby is breech, a cesarean may be another option.
When to opt for a Cesarean if the Baby is Breech
If the baby hasn't turned in the last week or so of pregnancy, you may decide to go for a C-Section. The reasons may include:
- Medical reasons, such as a low lying placenta or pre eclampsia
- A very small or large baby
- Baby’s head is tilting up
- Not wanting forceps to aid the birth
- Worry that the midwife isn't experienced in delivering breech babies
- Your pelvis is too small
- The baby is footling breech or kneeling breech, which could risk an umbilical cord prolapse
I Want to Turn my Breech Baby!
There have been many suggestions and ideas on how to turn an upside down baby back to vertex position.
During your pregnancy you will see your doctor and midwife regularly. They will check your blood pressure and urine for signs of pre eclampsia and diabetes, and check baby’s heartbeat.
If your baby is breech, they will scan you at 37 weeks and attempt ECV (External Cephalic Version).
ECV can be very successful and is a safe way of trying to turn the baby. It needs to be done in hospital where there is a trained medical team around you.
The doctor or obstetrician will monitor the baby’s heartbeat and give you a drug to relax the womb. Although this is painless it can be rather uncomfortable.
They will then try to guide the baby round by placing pressure on your tummy with their hands.
Providing there is plenty of fluid in the womb, the baby is not too high up and the mother does not have a heart shaped uterus, the baby should turn around successfully
Other Ways to Turn a Breech Baby
If you are aware that your baby is breech earlier on in your pregnancy, you may want to try to turn it before you get to 37 weeks.
Talk to your health care provider to ensure this is safe for you and baby.
There are simple techniques you can try.
The water is great for supporting your weight, so gentle swimming will stretch out your body and loosen your pelvis. This should help the baby to turn.
This is done using the force of gravity to move baby. By lying on a plank of wood or ironing board, with the bottom end propped up on cushions or a chair, this should encourage the somersault.
Make sure your feet are up and your head is down. Use pillows to make you feel more comfortable.
Try rotating your hips around for 10 minutes each day. Stick you tummy out and you buttocks out as far as possible.
You can also get down on all fours (get someone to help you!) and stick your buttocks in the air. Get into a cat position with your chest on the floor so that your pelvis is tilted upwards, to encourage baby to flip.
This is said to be done for 15 minutes, every two hours during the day for 5 days. By kneeling down with your chest and head on the mattress. If you crawl along the floor beforehand it is said to help dislodge the baby’s bottom and encourage it to rotate around.
Light and Sound
Babies tend to follow light and sound. Try shining a torch on your belly towards the bottom of your bump to entice baby round.
Play soft gentle music at the bottom of you baby bump so he or she follows it. Put headphones on your tummy.
Bag of Frozen Peas
Go steady with this! Babies do not like the cold, so place a bag of frozen peas over your clothes at the top of your bump, where the head is.
Alternative Ways to Turn a Breech Baby
Always consult a professional before considering alternative methods.
Pulsatilla (windflower) is an alternative complimentary way to help breech babies. It does not however work for every pregnant woman.
The herb is supposed to work by helping the uterus muscle to grow evenly so that the baby gets into natural position. It can be taken in capsule form in different doses, so seek advice before taking it.
The ancient Chinese practice Acupuncture is used for many conditions. By burning a small amount of the herb, Moxa, and stimulating an acupuncture point on the little toe it is said to turn breech babies.
Acupuncture is used with specialised needles to channel energy through the body.
By massaging the abdomen in a clockwise direction, it should help to rotate the baby round. Use baby oil or baby lotion, and do this slowly and gently.