Is your baby breech? (If you’re not sure, check out this post!) While many women dread learning this, know that you have options when it comes to turning a breech baby. First off, delivering a breech baby is not impossible. For centuries, women had no other choice and doctors were trained to deliver breech babies. You can read more about the risks and options with a breech baby delivery here.
However, with the invention of modern medicine, U.S. hospitals choose to err on the side of caution by, in most instances, mandating breech babies be delivered via cesarean. The trend in the U.S., as well as other countries like Ireland, shows that 9 out of 10 breech babies are delivered via cesarean. This means approximately 140,000 [U.S.] babies each year face being delivered via C-section simply because they present as breech at the onset of labor.
If you desire to experience natural childbirth, it is imperative to have baby in the head-down position, and if necessary, finding safe methods of turning a breech baby.
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Techniques for Turning a Breech Baby
Okay so you’ve been doing the daily optimal baby positioning exercises. You’re past 30 weeks… and baby is still breech! Now what? Here is a list of self-care and professional techniques that can help flip your baby:
Hypnobabies is an MP3 series that offers various types of proven medical hypnosis techniques to create peaceful, relaxing, and more comfortable pregnancy and birth. Some call it “hypno-birthing.” They have one specifically for turning a breech baby entitled, “Turn Baby Turn.” It’s a mere $15-$20, and money well spent. I LOVED this technique! It was my favorite hands-down. It was so healing. It bonded me with my baby exponentially. I can’t say enough about this technique. It created a profound and peaceful connection between me and Griffin, ensuring an optimal and loving unison throughout the flipping process. It’s a great technique to create calm and reduce anxiety, for both.
This technique is like the Bridge Pose in Yoga. If you are not sure the position of your baby, DO NOT do this technique. Just as it can aid in turning a breech baby head down, it could also inadvertently turn a head-down baby to a breech baby.
This technique is like a Yoga downward facing dog with extra support. You’ll need a chair or couch to kneel on. Make sure the first couple times you try this you have someone nearby supporting you, as it is an awkward position. I did this technique a couple of times when trying techniques for turning a breech baby.
With a trained doula or midwife, you can take your chest-to-floor inversion up a notch with a rebozo wrap. A rebozo is a Mexican shawl that is often used for babywearing that can also be used to help turn a breech baby by supporting the hips. Watch Mexican midwife Naoli Vinaver demonstrate how here:
As demonstrated above, Naoli Vinaver is knowledgable in many techniques for flipping a baby. As the founder of Luz de Luna Home Birth Services, Vinaver is no stranger to helping mamas achieve natural, empowered births. In addition to the rebozo inversion, Vinaver also advocates for other positions including breech tilt and wide crawling, as seen in the image below. You can also learn more about Naoli’s teachings here.
Some folks recommend you go to a nearby pool because water increases amniotic fluid. More room, more movement. Do a handstand in the water. I didn’t do this technique for turning a breech baby, but many say it works well.
Light and temperature
Baby responds to dark/light and hot/cold. Start by having Dad place a flashlight at the base of your pelvis and sing, talk, and coax the baby downward. Many say this works, as baby instinctively moves towards the light and soothing sound. It certainly gives new meaning to “follow the light.”
Baby also responds to temperatures. Many women place ice packs in the rib area and/or heating pads at the base of the pelvis to entice baby away from the cold and/or towards the warmth.
This technique is done by a professional chiropractor. The Webster technique is a specific adjustment that reduces the effects of SI joint dysfunction. Often, pregnant mothers with breech babies get this adjustment that frequently facilitates optimal fetus positioning. It’s not going to turn a breech baby right then and there, but it does create the right alignment for baby to naturally move into a head-down position.
The inversion with rebozo wrap pops up again in the Miles Circuit. Your doula or midwife may suggest the Miles Circuit, if your labor has stalled or if your baby is not in the ideal position. The circuit consists of three moves (read more in this post on inducing labor naturally) that help encourage your baby into the proper position for birth, but be sure to only do these moves with your midwife’s permission.
Tip: It’s really important to dedicate your time for these moves; it can take time to flip a baby. You may need to stay in these positions for 30 minutes at a time.
External Cephalic Version (Version or ECV)
This technique is a medical procedure used for physically turning a breech baby. When it was determined Griffin was breech, my midwife performed ECV and flipped him in a snap! She manipulated his head and butt from my outer belly and basically moved him with her hands. When he was sort of sideways, he instantly flipped into a head down position himself. She said it was easy, because of the good quantity of amniotic fluid in the sac. It was shocking how easy and simple it was. It freaked me out really. Mostly, because I wasn’t prepared for the information that he was breech, but then to have him flipped in the same 5 minutes was a lot to take in.
Since then, I’ve found out that ECV is common, typically around 37 weeks. Sometimes it is used during labor, before the amniotic sac has ruptured. Because mine was done so early (34 weeks), Griffin didn’t stay head down, which is not unusual and is one of the reasons ECV is often performed closer to labor.
ECV’s have a success rate of about 60% so it’s definitely worth a try if all else fails. Do know there are some risks so be sure to discuss with your midwife or doctor to see what is best for your situation.
This was the weirdest thing I did while trying techniques for turning a breech baby, but people swear by it. The technique has been around for over 3500 years!
Between weeks 30-34 gestation with a breech baby, an acupuncturist will stick the needles (very thin and narrow) in your pinky toes, both sides. Then, moxibustion incense, comprised of an herb called mugwort, is burned and the smoke is swirled close around the needles. The hot cherry of the incense is also put close (but not on) the needles. The combination of smoke, heat, and acupressure points stimulate the uterus to get baby to turn head down. It doesn’t hurt. It’s strange. But my acupuncturist claims that only two of the women she has ever treated for breech babies didn’t work. Later, she found out that one baby had the cord wrapped around its neck, so instinctively the baby knew not to turn. And the other baby was a wild baby in utero all the way up into labor.
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What If You’re Having Trouble Turning a Breech Baby?
Here’s a whole post on your options for delivery when you techniques for turning a breech baby don’t work.
How Other Natural Mamas Turned Breech Babies
I asked the moms on my Facebook page if they were successful in turning a breech baby. Here are some of their responses.
- Chiropractic! I had a 9lb 4oz baby with a head measuring 4 weeks “too big.” She was breech at 37 weeks. I called my chiro ASAP, and she did an adjustment using the Webster technique, plus acupuncture on my pinky toes. My melon-headed baby was back down where she belonged within 24 hours! — Betsy S.
- I tried a lot of time inverted. Ice/hot (warm) packs and music played below the belt to draw him near. I did so much research on spinning babies and also watched you, Mama Natural, on turning Griff before his birth. My son decided the day of his scheduled c-section to turn. Literally right before they began to wheel me away. They luckily sent me home to allow me to give birth naturally. — Jennifer D.
- Prenatal massage at 38 weeks 5 days. My body relaxed enough for baby to flip. It was wild watching the sheet going crazy from the movement! — Lauren H.
- Table pose in prenatal yoga turned both of mine. — Caitlin R.
- Chiro and handstands in a pool! — Catherine F.
- Talking to my baby. I pressed hard on the top of my belly and said “Your feet and bum go here.” Rubbed my belly clockwise. Then pressed down low on my belly and said “Your head goes here.” Repeated several times a day for about two weeks. This worked more than once—the latest one was 35 weeks. — Kadie J.
- A friend of mine told me a old wives tale that if you scrub your kitchen floor clean on your hands and knees the baby will flip. Sure enough at 37 weeks while scrubbing the floor she flipped! — India R.
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Breech Baby How to Turn Yours Naturally Cheat Sheet