Oh Those Breech Babies...
I decided I'd write a little about breech babies since I've experienced a baby being breech very far into pregnancy. My third baby decided to be all over the place in the third trimester. While most babies decide to get vertex (head down) by 30 or 32 weeks, mine thought that breech was a nice place to be during those weeks. Occasionally she'd be vertex, sometimes she'd be transverse (sideways), and other times she'd be breech. The one nice thing with my baby was that since she was all over the place, she could move pretty easily. Since it is exceedingly rare to find a care provider who will support a breech birth these days, I did everything in my power to make my baby turn to a vertex position. Here are a few things I did...
We recommend chiropractic care to all our clients! There are so many benefits, but seeing a Webster Certified chiropractor when you have a breech baby can encourage your baby to turn to a vertex position. If you need help finding a chiropractor who specializes in this, just ask us!
Moxibustion is a type of Chinese medicine where you burn an herb (Artemesia vulgaria) close to the skin of your pinky toes. The evidence shows that moxibustion alone does not make much of a difference, but when combined with other techniques, it seems to help babies turn to a vertex position. I went to The Lotus Center in Greensboro to learn how to properly use moxibustion with my third baby. It was honestly a very relaxing time with my husband to "smoke my toes" as we call it before bed each night!
Spinning Babies Exercises
Spinning Babies is a wonderful resource for all things pertaining to getting your baby in the optimal position - not just head down, but head down and anterior (rather than posterior). This is another resource we recommend to all clients - not just those with breech babies. My favorite positions for encouraging my breech baby to move were the forward leaning inversion and the breech tilt. They give a very detailed overview of everything you can do to turn your baby here.
External Cephalic Version
If all of the above doesn't work to turn your baby by 37 weeks, you may be a candidate for an ECV. In order to be a candidate for this, you have to consult with your doctor/midwife. This is where an OB moves the baby from the outside of your belly to turn your baby to a head down position. There are risks to an ECV, but there are also risks to a c-section, so many women decide to try the ECV. There is good evidence to do ECVs when moms are good candidates. With my baby, I had a successful ECV at 38 weeks. She ended up turning back to a transverse position two days before my due date, so I had a second successful ECV one day before my due date - she kept me on my toes! In my doula experience, moms who have a successful ECV usually say that it hurt, but that they were glad they did it so that they could attempt a vaginal birth. For the clients where it doesn't work, some still say they are glad they tried while others regret the experience. If you get to the point of trying to decide if you'd like to do it, reach out to your doulas! We can help you think through some of the pros and cons of this procedure and give you questions to ask your midwife/doctor.
I was inspired to write this post because I'm currently 35 weeks pregnant and just as of last week, my baby decided that he finally wanted to be vertex. I've been going to the chiropractor two times a week, smoking my toes, and doing the spinning babies exercises to try to encourage him to move. Did these things help? I hope so! I at least know they didn't hurt. Will he stay in this position? I hope so! But I'm not holding by breath. Now, most babies who decide to be vertex after 30 weeks really do stay that way. My babies are unique because I've had 4 large babies in less than 6 years and my uterus and abdominal muscles are just very stretched out. So... May all the babies out there decide to put their heads on your cervix... but if they don't, hopefully you can encourage them to be in the ideal position!