How to Flip a Breech Baby
If palpation and/or ultrasound examination has led to the discovery that a baby is in a breech position, the obstetrician’s and/or midwife’s focus turns to trying to get the baby to turn head down, so long as the ultrasound reveals that the position of the placenta will allow the baby to flip.
While flipping has been known to work during labor for those breeches that aren’t diagnosed until then, it is preferable to begin turning techniques between the 32nd and 37th weeks of pregnancy. Chances are that uterine ligaments and muscles have contributed to the breech position and need to be gently worked and softened and manipulated to safely turn the baby.
Strategies to flip a Breech Baby
There are several turning strategies available including medical and more natural methods.
External Cephalic Version – External cephalic version (ECV) is a procedure that an obstetrician or midwife will use to externally manipulate the baby from a breech position to a head-down position. It is sometimes done in conjunction with medication to help the uterus relax. If the muscles and/or ligaments are too tight, there won’t be enough room for the baby to turn. “This is generally done only in normal, health pregnancies, in a hospital under ultrasound guidance, and after 37 weeks … about two-thirds of all ECV attempts are successful.” (WhattoExpect.com)
Chiropractic Care – With the right provider, a chiropractic technique called the “Webster Technique” can be used to reduce stress on the pelvis, allowing the uterus and supporting ligaments to relax. “The July/August issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported an 82% success rate for the Webster Technique … [I]t is preferable to perform the Webster Technique in the 8th month of pregnancy.” (American Pregnancy Association)
Forward-Leaning Inversion – The idea with the forward-leaning inversion position is to put yourself in the position that you want your baby to be in — head down. This means resting on your hands or elbows while placing your knees on a step or chair, so that your buttocks are higher than your head. This position stretches the ligaments supporting the lower part of the uterus. When you get up, the ligaments relax. This should be done daily for at least 30 seconds at a time for a posterior presenting baby. A breech baby may need a little longer. “[I]t’s the frequency that seems to matter, not the length of time with this type of inversion.” (SpinningBabies.com)
Pelvic Tilts – Pelvic tilts involve kneeling on the floor with your knees slightly apart, then tilting your lower body until your belly almost touches the floor. This should be done for 20 minutes at a time, three times a day
Rebozo Sifting – Rebozo sifting can be done during labor to ease contractions by reducing the stress on the back, but can also be used before labor to turn babies. This should only be done under the guidance of an experienced midwife or doula. SpinningBabies.com has more about when NOT to use Rebozo shifting.
Using Music – Babies can hear sounds made outside the womb. Some women have found it helpful to record their voice and place the recording in a “down” position, to try to get their baby to move towards the sound. This can work with or without headphones.
Moxibustion – Moxibustion is an ancient Chinese method that combines acupuncture and a kind of aromatherapy. A fragrant herb is burned over one of the acupuncture points, which relaxes the uterine muscles, allowing the baby to flip. This method is shown to be most effective when done on each side for 15 minutes a day for one week. This can be done by an acupuncturist, physiotherapist, experienced midwife or by the mother herself. Usually only one treatment is needed.
Which is the best flipping method?
There isn’t a single best flipping method. It is really one of those trial and error type things. Be consistent in trying one method. If that doesn’t seem to work, then try another, or perhaps a combination. It may be that, in the end, the baby won’t turn and appropriate planning for a breech birth will be the next step.
It is also important to coordinate these activities with your midwife and/or doctor. Certain conditions such as low maternal thyroid levels or an unusually large amount of amniotic fluid, may not make it possible to do some of these activities, or may require extra attention to help these methods be effective.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Breech Baby During Pregnancy. WhattoExpect.com. Web. Apr 26, 2012.
Flip a Breech. SpinningBabies.com. Web. Apr 26, 2012.
Breech Births. American Pregnancy Association. Web. Apr 26, 2012.
Rebozo Sifting, or jiggling. SpinningBabies.com. Web. Apr 26, 2012.
Moxibustion for Breech Presentation. The London Acupuncture Clinic. Web. Apr 26, 2012.