You’ve just started your third trimester. The last ultrasound showed that your baby was breech. You expect it to flip any time now, but weeks pass by and your baby stubbornly remains head up. Perhaps your OB or midwife suggests the Spinning Babies website. You do the exercises and hope that the movements you’re feeling involve a flip, and then, suddenly, it’s week 36. Your baby is still upright, and the OB/midwife tells you that if the baby doesn’t flip soon, you’ll need to schedule a C-section. Maybe you’re planning on having one already, but if not, the news could come as a bit of a shock.
The standard medical procedure for breech babies performed by your OB/midwife is an external cephalic version. The OB/midwife manually encourage the baby to flip, with fetal monitoring to make sure that nothing goes wrong. This is usually scheduled during weeks 36-38. But perhaps you’re not content to just schedule a version. You’re scared and stressed that you may have to have a c-section before you’ve had a chance to labor, and you want to see what’s out there.
I’m an acupuncturist, so of course I’m going to mention acupuncture. In addition to using moxabustion (the burning of mugwort on or over an acupuncture point) over UB 67, the point classically indicated for breech babies, acupuncture can help relax the muscles and sinews, giving your baby more room to move. Sometimes this is enough to flip the baby. Other times, it’s not.
Prenatal massage can also help, relaxing you and your muscles. I practice out of Aditi Studios, which has some wonderfully qualified massage therapists who specialize in prenatal massage. This and acupuncture work well in tandem with the next thing on the list:
The Webster technique is a chiropractic technique that can also be tried. Since I’m not a chiropractor, I can’t tell you exactly what’s involved, but from my own personal experience with it (this scenario is one I went through myself), it seems to address pelvic alignment, and it can be magical. Only specially trained chiropractors do this, so make sure to call the chiropractors in your area to check in to see which ones know how. I went to Dr. Gita Vasudeva at Health Excellence Chiropractic here in Seattle, and she was great.
There are a handful of other techniques you can try at home as well. Ice near the baby’s head in an attempt to freeze them into moving can be helpful, but remember to warm yourself after. Putting a speaker or headphones playing soft, relaxing music toward the bottom of your belly might lure the baby’s head down, trying to get closer to the source of the pretty sounds. And being on your hands and knees as much as possible. Is your floor kinda gross? Might as well clean it now! I’ve also heard stories of mamas on the eve of their scheduled c-section or during labor having a word with their babies, and the babies flipping then, but that’s pressing things a little close to the wire!
Remember though, even if your baby doesn’t flip and you have a c-section, the most important thing is a healthy baby and a healthy mama. Labor and childbirth is unpredictable, and in the end, we have to surrender control to the process of our body as it figures out how to deliver our baby. It never hurts to look into these things and most definitely advocate for yourself, but it’s ok if things don’t turn out the way you hoped they would. As long as you and your little one find each other in the end and are able to go home together, you’ve done good, Mama.