Breech is rarely on our radar because it is rare and, well, what is there really to know about an upside-down baby? Unfortunately, some women get caught at the end of pregnancy with a surprise breech and don't have much time to figure out what to do about it. That's where I come in.
Not all breech babies need to be born via cesarean. It's difficult to find a provider who is confident in breech delivery, but most babies can be born safely vaginally. Try to find someone who can help you identify options in your area.
You should also know that there are some things you can do to encourage your baby to go head down. The earlier you start, the better they work. Babies who are still breech at 38 weeks are really very unlikely to turn. Your time and energy is better spent planning the birth you want for a breech baby.
Between about 32-36 weeks, there are some things you can do to help a breech baby go head-down:
This is getting in the knee-chest position, doing a forward-leaning inversion, or the breech tilt. You can read up on the different types of exercises on Better Birth or Spinning Babies.
This is probably the most common folk remedy for breech: you put something icy on the top of your belly and something nice and warm down low. There is no evidence for this, but you can give it a go. The same goes for talking or playing music down low, shining a light, or tickling.
A branch of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, moxa is a dried herb that you burn near pressure points in the body. In this case, you hold the stick near your pinky toe. There is some evidence for this, and it's best done with a knowledgeable provider.
Related: It's Breech Week: 8 Things You Need to Know About Fetal Position
Make an appointment with a professional, preferably someone who has experience with breech. They use the same pinky toe point, only with needles. You can also try this with acupressure. Some women have been known to use clothespins on their toes. Please see a professional.
A chiropractor can adjust your spine and your pelvis so that your uterus is more balanced and baby has room to turn into a more ideal position. Find someone who is trained in the Webster Technique and has lots of experience with pregnancy.
I wish I would have tried this when I had my breech. There is a well-known correlation between anxious, stressed, or uptight mothers and breech babies. Sometimes women talk to their babies in a relaxed state and ask them why they are head up and they get an answer. A hypnotherapist friend of mine has excellent success.
The mind-body connection is real. If you have emotional hang-ups about the pregnancy or upcoming birth, you may be able to relax enough from hypnotherapy or EFT. It's pretty weird at first, but it's a nice self-care practice. Pair it with visualizing your baby head down.
An ECV (or External Cephalic Version) is when the practitioner uses her hands on your belly to nudge and push the baby into a head-down position. Rates of effectiveness vary enormously with the practitioner. In Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, Henci Goer studied 3,700 women in twenty-six studies on ECV.
There were only complications leading to cesarean in two cases. It is considered very safe, but in many cases is done in a labor and delivery ward in case it puts you into labor or distresses the baby.
9. Know Your Options
Do some research and learn what you can about breech position, and what people with breech babies do. Learn the many reasons why babies are breech if that's on your mind. Get your questions answered so that you can relax.
There are many breech birth stories, both written and video, that you can view for educational and emotional support. Contact local birth workers and your local chapter of ICAN for information about breech options near you. Talk with someone who's been through it.
10. Make a Decision
Decide if you're going to invest time, money, and emotional energy into turning your baby. Do you want to try everything, only schedule an ECV, or just relax and plan your birth? Do what's best for you and this baby.