Breech Baby: Prevention and Management

It’s common to wonder: What should I do if I find out I have a breech baby? Learning that your baby is positioned buttocks first or feet first rather than head down (or vertex) can be disappointing but, never fear, there are some techniques that can help encourage your baby to get into a more optimal position.

The list below includes evidence-based and anecdotal recommendations to help your baby turn head down if your provider tells you your baby is breech:

Bridge Pose
For 10 – 20 minutes per day, lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, assuming the bridge pose that you may have practiced in a yoga class. This position will allow the baby to move out of the pelvis and have more room to turn. Use pillows to elevate your hips if needed.

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Elbows & Knees
This position may be easier, especially if the bridge pose causes you to get a headache or feel short of breath. Get down in a hands and knees positon with your knees slightly wider than your hips. Bring your elbows down to the floor so your shoulders are lower than your hips. Rock your hips forward for 5 minutes and then side – to – side for another 5 minutes to encourage your breech baby to flip over.

Light Against the Abdomen
As your uterus grows, it thins out to the point that direct light can shine through and the baby can see the glow. If you shine a flashlight on your lower abdomen your baby may bring his or her head down to get a better view of the light and flip into a vertex position.

Instead of a flashlight, play music on your phone and hold it against your lower abdomen. Babies can hear in utero and may be encouraged to move toward the sound.

Ice Pack/Warm Pack
If light and sound don’t work take a more tactile approach: Place an ice pack on the upper abdomen and a warm pack on the lower. The baby will want to move toward the warmer spot and possibly flip over while doing so.

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Performed by an acupuncturist, moxibustion involves placing a warmed herb on the little toe to help relax the uterine muscles so the baby can turn more easily. This technique is evidence-based and is often successful.

Webster’s Technique
This is a chiropractic maneuver that helps the uterine muscles relax so the baby has room to turn around.

The simple act of swimming may help turn your breech baby but a gentle flip underwater is more likely to yield positive results if you’re up for it.

If none of the above work, you have the option of having a version. During a version, an obstetrician will attempt to turn the baby to a head down position using his or her hands to press on the mother’s abdomen and guide the baby in the right direction. The procedure occurs in the hospital with the use of ultrasound for guidance. Version carries some risk and can be uncomfortable, but it usually works to avoid a breech delivery.

Most babies turn vertex on their own before the last month of pregnancy; however, if you find out you have a breech baby take the time to try some of the above techniques. There’s no guarantee of success but you have a good chance of getting the baby to move head down and avoiding a scheduled cesarean section.

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