Babies are often in breech position until 36 weeks, and even later for second or subsequent births, when they suddenly feel the call of the wild and turn head down on their own. Many mothers have been panicked by ominous warnings from physicians about cesareans and exterior turning, only to discover on the day that the child has turned and the threatened procedures caused angst for naught. However, there are some things you can do to encourage a reticent baby to turn on his/her own!
At 35 weeks you can use the breech tilt position, as follows:
- Three times a day, when your stomach is not full and baby is awake and active, lie on the floor on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Raise your hips some inches off the floor and slide some cushions beneath to hold your body in a tilted position. You will be lying with your head and shoulders on the floor and hips and knees raised. Remain there 10 minutes. The aim of this position is to help a partially engaged baby to become unengaged from the pelvis and free to move. However, if you feel faint or uncomfortable, stop the exercise at once.
- As you consciously relax tension in your abdomen, visualize your baby’s head pressing “down” against the top of your uterus, and watch in your imagination the baby trying to get his head “up” again.
MUSIC: If you have high blood pressure or cannot tolerate the breech tilt position, avoid it and concentrate on using music for the same purpose. Place stereo headphones low on your tummy and play rhythmic music moderately loud. Some people believe babies particularly like baroque music. The baby may try to move his head closer so he can hear the music better. The music can also be used in the breech tilt position.
WATER: Go for a gentle swim (no backstroke- it strains the stomach muscles.) If you are uncomfortable going to swim at a public pool, try a bath or shower. Babies seem to like the sound of water and the feeling of weightlessness that they experience when we are taking a bath. Get into the bath or shower when the baby is a wake and especially active, and concentrate on lengthening your torso, imagining more room in your abdomen. Speak soothing, encouraging words and talk to him, encouraging him to turn. I know that he doesn’t really understand speech yet, but the tones of voice are understood and your positive hormones cross the placenta and he feeds on your feelings as well.
Obviously, whenever you feel the baby being active try to adopt an open position that encourages him to have the space to turn over. Check out the Optimal Fetal Positioning post for postures that encourage movement.
When the doctor attempts to turn your baby, he or she will put you in the above breech tilt position for 20 minutes, all the time monitoring your blood pressure, in order to un-engage the baby from your pelvis. Afterwards, they will do an ultrasound to make absolutely certain that the baby is actually breech, and that they are not making a mistake. Then your tummy is slathered with lubricant, and gently but firmly the doctor will stroke your belly in circular movements until the head is downwards and the bottom up. If you are scheduled for an exterior turning of the baby, don’t be scared by stories of how much it hurts. There are a few good tricks that help the experience to be easier and more successful:
- Don’t eat too much or drink anything acidic (like orange juice) beforehand to avoid uncomfortable heartburn. Do have a light breakfast.
- Bring someone along with you who will make you laugh! Chat and joke the entire time. If you are laughing, you are not tensing your stomach muscles and holding them in, which will work against the doctor’s attempts and cause pain to your sensitive uterus. The massaging movements of your laughing will jiggle the baby and endorphins may help him feel positive and more willing to be manipulated too.
- Take 4 drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy beforehand, available at all pharmacies in Israel. I even spotted them on the counter top by the till at Superdrug recently. This mild distillation of flower extracts is safe to use in pregnancy and does not have any known adverse side effects. It will help you feel calmer.
*Note: Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba in particular has quite a high record of successes with exterior turning (hipuch) of babies.