Lately in my prenatal yoga and doula practice, I’ve been getting lots of mammas looking to turn their breech babies, so it seemed like a timely topic to blog about. One of the things I am most passionate about is helping people find holistic, non-invasive, low-risk alternatives to medical intervention that could easily be avoided, so read on if you or someone you care about has a breech baby.
Most babies will turn head down by 34 weeks, but I like my clients to start paying attention to baby’s position by 32 weeks, as it’s easier to move a smaller baby. Most hospital based care providers don’t even check for baby’s position until 36 weeks, and at that point the pressure is on to start thinking about a birth with interventions. Suggestions 1-9 are appropriate no matter what week you’re at in your pregnancy. All of these suggestions will help you head towards a relaxed, efficient and conscious birth, no matter your baby’s position.
The first thing I like to remind mammas with breech babies, is that up until the last generation or so, vaginal breech birth was treated as a variation of normal. Some midwives, like Ina May Gaskin, still offer vaginal breech births, but most hospitals in the US don’t offer it or are only offering it on a very limited basis. As a result, the only option presented to most women with breech babies is a Cesarian birth. So, before you start focusing on what may be wrong with you or your baby in this situation, please remember that breech is a variation of normal, whether or not your provider treats it that way! In fact, all of the vaginal breech births I have attended were very fast, straightforward and healthy.
Below are my go to tips for optimizing your potential to have a vaginal birth. There are many more things I could suggest, but today’s intention is to just get you started without getting you weighed down with TMI.
10 Ways to Encourage Your Breech Baby to Turn Head Down
- Go to Spinning Babies and follow her recommendations, including creating a daily practice of the forward leaning inversion. Here’s a pic of one of my mammas doing it in labor while trying to turn her posterior baby. It worked for her and soon after this pic, her baby was born at home!
- Get adjusted by a chiropractor who practices the Webster Technique. They can help to balance and align the pelvis and sacrum to allow your baby move into the vertex, or head down position.
- Do Restorative Yoga with a very experienced prenatal yoga teacher (like me!) who is familiar with supported inversions and other positions that help make space for babies to turn, especially those that release the psoas muscles. This is not a well known or commonly taught practice and I haven’t met many other teachers that are familiar with this approach, but it’s still worth asking around for.
- Practice relaxation daily, along with slow deep breathing (for at least 20 minutes): Your deep postural and core muscles are governed by your emotions. If you are stressed, your muscles tighten, if your muscles are tight, it is very hard for baby to move.
- Address any fears you have about birth and parenting. Try a hypnosis session to go into your subconscious and see if your baby or body has any information to share with you about what’s going on. Sometimes there are deeper issues that you weren’t conscious of that may need to be addressed so you can let got and release enough for the baby to turn.
- Receive Mayan Abdominal Therapy. This form of bodywork is excellent at creating space, relaxing the belly muscles and helping the uterus come into optimal alignment to free up your baby to find the ideal position for birth.
- Go to an acupuncturist and have them teach you how to do moxibustion on yourself. Your partner can do it on you while you’re doing your inversions, restorative poses and/or relaxation.
- Completely relax your belly muscles. Stop any type of workout that could be tightening your core and pelvic floor muscles.
- Talk to your baby and practice visualizing them turning their head down into your pelvis. You can practice this while on the acupuncture table, while doing your restorative poses and inversions.
- Consider doing an External Cephalic Version with a doctor that is dedicated to supporting natural birth, as they will be more likely to be invested in trying to get your baby to turn. Having done all of the above suggestions ahead of time will make this procedure more likely to be successful. Best done around 36 weeks.Check out my Birth Resources list for SF practitioners that have helped many of my mammas turn their breech babies.
Finally, if all else fails, start looking for doctors or midwives in your community that are willing to support you in having a vaginal breech birth. In San Francisco, UCSF sometimes offers breech births, as does Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Some Bay Area mammas I know have even chosen to work with Dr. Annette Fineberg at Sutter Davis, as she has a very positive reputation for supporting natural breech births. I have attended several smooth vaginal births, some completely natural, and not only is it a totally magical thing to witness, but by choosing this way of birthing, you are helping to preserve the skills and techniques that will help other moms and babies be able to avail themselves of this dying art.
To learn more about the controversy over vaginal breech birth, check out the documentary, Head’s Up.
I know that being in this situation can be stressful for many pregnant families. Reading this extensive list of options might cause more anxiety than it solves, so please sit with this list and feel for yourself what is the right course of action for you, emotionally, logistically and/or financially. Some mammas I have worked with feel comfortable making it their full time job to turn their babies, others can only manage to do one or two things on this list. Whatever you decide, I hope that you can find peace and surrender as you head towards meeting your baby.
For any of you in the Bay Area trying to turn your breech babies, feel free to contact me if you’d like to set up a private yoga session. In these sessions we go over relaxation, poses, breathing and visualization, as well as figuring out which resources mentioned above may be the most effective for you.
Please remember that no matter how your baby is born, you can make any birth a conscious birth, filled with love, connection, presence and deep breaths.