6 Ways to Turn a Breech Baby

A diagram showing an external cephalic version, turning a breech baby
Photo © Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Breech means that your baby is head up instead of head down. This at term or the 37th week of pregnancy. One of the things that you might try to do is to turn a breech baby prior to the beginning of labor. There are things you can do including:

1. Breech Tilt Exercise 

The breech tilt exercise is simply taking your hips above your heart. Some women do this with pillows stacked under their hips. It's probably easier and more stable to actually lean an ironing board on your couch and lay on the ironing board with your head towards the floor.

This works by encouraging your baby to leave the pelvis and flip. Remember, babies want to be head down. It's all physics.

2. Cold at the Top of the Uterus 

Using something cold at the top of the uterus of the fundus, you can encourage your baby to move away from it. Since babies want to be warm and snuggled, this means they will often move away from the cold sensation. A bag of frozen peas works well. Be sure to do this with at least a thin layer of fabric between you and the peas.

3. Heat or Music at the Pubic Bone 

A positive spin on getting the baby to move is to play music at your pubic bone or even shine a flashlight. Babies have been reported to move towards the sound or light. You might even combine it with the above tip.

4. Moxibustion 

This is a form of Ancient Chinese medicine that involves burning a Moxi stick near a special point on your baby toe (Bladder 67). This should be performed by a practitioner of Moxibustion.

Moxibustion has been studied and proven helpful at turning breech babies. It is not painful nor does it involve manipulating the body to help turn the breech baby.

5. Webster Technique 

This is performed by a qualified chiropractor who has been trained in this technique, not every chiropractor is trained.

It involves adjusting the body to help relax any tension that may be holding the pelvis in a weird manner, thus creating a tense environment making it hard for the baby to maneuver around.

6. External Cephalic Version (ECV)

This procedure is performed usually by a doctor or midwife in a hospital setting. It is most commonly done with a shot of something to relax the uterus. An ultrasound is used to guide the practitioner at physically turning the baby from the outside. (One mother's story of her external version.) This can be uncomfortable to painful depending on your body and the baby. The force needed to turn the baby can be great. Some practitioners recommend the use of an epidural, others do not. 

All of these procedures are not available for everyone. Some can be done at home and require no medical support while others need to be performed with your practitioners. Increasing the chance that your baby will turn head down (vertex) increases your chance of a vaginal birth. While some practitioners will do breech vaginal births for some babies, some will ask you to have a cesarean, either once labor has started or planned at the end of pregnancy.

Sources:

Cardini F. & Weixin H. (1998). Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 280(18), 1580-1584. Free full text: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188144

Cluver, C., G. J. Hofmeyr, et al. (2012). “Interventions for helping to turn term breech babies to head first presentation when using external cephalic version.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev 1: CD000184.

Coyle ME, Smith CA, & Peat B. 2012. Cephalic version by moxibustion for breech presentation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 5. Art. No: CD003928. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22592693

Vas J, Aranda-Regules JM, Modesto M, et al. (2013). Acupuncture Medicine 31: 31-38. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23249535

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