In past times, it was reasonably common practice to birth breech babies vaginally but this is now becoming a lost skill for midwives and obstetricians. Caesarean sections are easy to access and generally recognised as a safe surgery. Couple this with our risk-averse culture, and it’s little wonder that fewer than 10% of babies in a breech position are born vaginally today.
To give you an idea of the bigger picture, only 3 – 4% of singleton pregnancies see babies in a breech position. There are different examples of this position:
It is common for mothers with breech babies to hear that the “only” thing they can do is to have a Caesarean. Before you agree to surgical birth, there are some things you can try which may encourage baby into a head down position. It’s worth having a discussion with your LMC on vaginal breech birth too as it’s not impossible - although it can be challenging to find a midwife or obstetrician who is practiced and confident in this type of birth.
Remember you can’t see inside yourself to know exactly how your pelvis is shaped. Maybe baby is simply more comfortable given the space they have to be head up and bottom down. Sometimes you just need to trust your baby and body.
Ways to turn your breech baby:
Be sure to check with your LMC before trying the positions suggested to see if there is any reason why you should not use them.
- Visualise your baby moving head down into your pelvis. Visualisation is a very powerful tool. We don’t scoff at professional sports people or business people who use it to get results. Many pregnant women find it a great skill to use in pregnancy and labour.
- Swimming is great for helping babies into the best position for labour day. It relaxes mind and body, and works on the pelvis to make it easier for baby to find a good position in there.
- Moxibustion – this is a traditional Chinese medicine technique. Mugwort (artemesia vulgaris) is a small herb that is dried, compressed and rolled into sticks. The sticks are lit and held at acupuncture points (usually the outside edge of the little toes). The heat stimulates the points and promotes movement and activity in the baby who will hopefully lift up their bottom and move around. A 3 year study published in AJCM (2001) showed moxibustion to have some effect on turning babies into a head down position.
- Breech Tilt – This is done at 32 – 35 weeks pregnant with the aim of discouraging baby’s bottom from settling into the pelvis. Prop one end of an ironing board (or similar) securely on a sofa or chair 30-45cms high. Lie face up on the board with your feet at the elevated end – your head will be lower than your feet. Bend your knees but keep your feet flat on the board. Relax and breathe deeply. Do 3 times daily for 10-15 minutes each time, when you have an empty stomach, and the baby is active.
- Torch – try moving slowly down from the top of the uterus toward your pubic bone while you are in a breech tilt position.
- Pelvic Tilt– with an ice pack on the top of your tummy on an empty stomach, 10 minutes twice a day. Lie on your back on the floor, knees flexed, feet on the floor, and with three large pillows placed under your bottom. Some women place headphones low on their bump and use visualisation.
The following techniques to turn breech babies involve the assistance of a specialist or medical professional:
Webster’s Breech Technique – see a Chiropractor
External CephalicVersion (ECV) – this can be done in the hospital at about 37 weeks.
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