Q: Help! I just had my 36-week checkup at the gynecologist and they told me that my baby is breech, meaning that if it doesn’t go head-down soon, I’m going to have to have a C-section. I know this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I’d really like to try to deliver the baby naturally. Got any tips on turning a breech baby?
A: Babies are funny things, aren’t they? First of all, I’m not sure I understand why all babies aren’t breech. I mean, seriously — how comfortable is it to basically be floating upside-down inside a uterus, you know what I’m saying?
Lucky for you, I have a few tips that you can try, some at home, and some with the help of a professional. And while I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), I do know that you should always consult your healthcare professional before following any medical advice.
Things you can try at home first though, since those are the easiest (and least painful). First off, try rocking back on forth on your hands and knees for about 10 minutes a day. This is supposed to open up your uterus and give your baby room to turn comfortably and naturally. Some people do this with their butt way up in the air, and their forearms on the floor, encouraging your baby to leave the pelvis and flip even more. It may look silly, but I’ve heard that it’s one of the most effective baby-turning exercises you can do.
Some people even suggest standing on your head (leaning against a wall, that is). I don’t know about you though — I can’t even stand on my head when I’m not pregnant, so I imagine it’s even more difficult when you’ve got a baby in your belly and your center of gravity is severely compromised.
Another thing you can try at home: There are those who suggest putting a cold ice pack (or a frozen bag of veggies will do too) where the baby’s head is. Babies tend to move where it’s warmer and so this might spur the baby to turn on its own, as well. The alternative (and more positive approach) to this technique is to shine a light where you’d like your baby’s head to go in hopes that it will “turn toward the light” — literally.
So what if you’ve tried everything at home and still your baby won’t turn? One option you can try to turn your baby (relatively) naturally is acupuncture. Acupuncture enthusiasts will tell you that if the right energy is released through acupuncture, your uterus will loosen and the baby can turn freely and naturally, without the help of conventional medicine.
What if you’re not comfortable with acupuncture or nothing else has worked? You can go the medical route and book yourself an external cephalic version (ECV) with your OB/GYN. It ain’t fun, I’ll tell you that, but it has a pretty good success rate — about 65 percent. Before the procedure, your doctor will usually give you a drug to relax your uterus. (Terbutaline, which is often used for this purpose, also has the unfortunate side effect of making your heart race a bit.) Then, guided by a sonographer (and with the help of gels and oils), your doctor will literally try to turn the baby from the outside. There are rare risks associated with this procedure, such as emergency C-section or the placenta becoming detached, but if you’re trying to avoid a c-section delivery, this just might be your best option.
Beware, though, some babies are just not going to turn, no matter what you do. And that’s OK, because what really counts is that a healthy baby will be placed in your hands immediately following delivery, no matter how it gets there!
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