If your baby is breech around 34 weeks (head under your ribs rather than above the pelvis) you may want to know what you can do to encourage baby to turn head-down before the birth.
NB: You should only start doing these exercises at 34+ weeks, and only if breech position has been confirmed by a scan.
Many babies will turn spontaneously, and some do so just before the birth. However, some remain in the breech position. While some breech babies can be born vaginally, these days an elective caesarean is usually recommended. Here are some self-help suggestions if you wish to encourage your baby to turn.
The approach is twofold: first we want to prevent the baby going into the pelvis breech, and secondly to encourage movement and change.
The following exercises are anti-gravity and will prevent the breech engaging in the pelvic brim, making it easier for the baby to turn. Repeat this sequence several times a day, if you can – I think these are gentler and safer than hanging down off the seat of a sofa or lying on a sloping ironing board, which are sometimes recommended.
You might want to ask a partner to help you while you are getting used to doing these.
Arrange a pile of cushions on a yoga mat for your hips and another for your head.
- Sit on the cushions and then gently lower yourself back down so your head is supported, and your hips raised higher than your head.
- This creates a downward slope (anti-gravity) encouraging baby to move away from the pelvis.
- Relax until your breathing settles and stay there for 5 minutes or so.
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While in the position, continually massage your belly (using both your hands) in the direction your baby can most easily turn. Ask the midwife or doctor which way is best.
- Try this on the skin using a massage oil and a gentle pressure.
- Talk to your baby ‘inside’, encouraging him or her to turn head down and visualise it happening.
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Roll slowly over to one side and change to this kneeling position which is also a downward slope – taking baby away from the pelvis.
Rest in this position for about 5 minutes.
And then come up slowly.
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There are a few other ways to encourages movement and change:
- An acupuncture technique using moxibustion (a cigar shaped bunch of special herbs, which is lit at one end and held at a safe distance, to apply heat to a point on the little toe.
This can be done by your partner while you are in the Exercise 1 position.
You and a partner would need to be taught this technique by an acupuncturist who would supply the herbs.
- You can also take a homeopathic remedy called Pulsatilla before and after the session to encourage movement of the baby.
You can order this from a Homeopathic pharmacy (www.helios.co.uk) and need only two doses.
- Walking for up to an hour a day may encourage your baby’s head – the heaviest part of the body – to gravitate downwards. (Do not do this if you have pelvic pain though.)
- There is also a medical procedure called an ‘external version’ whereby an obstetrician can try to turn the baby manually from the outside.
If you decide to go for this, the above may help to prepare the way.
Relax as much as possible during the procedure and ask them to agree to stop if you ask them to.
Remember that results are not usually immediate, but keep trying as your baby may turn at any time.
To prevent the breech engaging in the pelvic brim, avoid squatting.
If you suspect that your baby has turned, stop doing the exercises and have a check-up to confirm the baby’s position.
It’s also worth exploring whether you have any fears or emotional issues around the birth and, if so, finding an appropriate person to talk with. Sometimes releasing feelings and clearing any doubts or fears can help the baby to settle head down into the pelvis ready for birth.
Lastly, if baby stays breech despite everything, accept your baby’s choice and make sure you relax and enjoy the birth and welcoming your baby for the very first time – don’t lose sight of what is most important! If the birth is by caesarean section take a look at our blog about skin-to-skin caesarean and how to make a caesarean a positive, joyful and loving experience: http://www.activebirthcentre.com/motherbaby-bonding/planning-natural-caesarean/
Try our women-only pregnancy yoga classes to learn more energising, relaxing and extremely useful poses, or bring your partner along to Janet’s Couples Yoga For Active Birth class and bond as you prepare to welcome your baby into the world.
If you need more advice, Janet offers private coaching on breech babies via zoom