Being a prenatal yoga teacher, I see lots of women whose babies are breech or are lying in a funky position. I find it really frustrating that their medical caregivers are giving little advice on how to try turn their baby naturally, before they get to the 37/38-week mark when most babies are less likely to turn, particularly for a first-time mama.
My mamas are faced with either a 'let's book you in for a section' chat, or 'we could do an ECV or a section'. However, shouldn't we be encouraging a natural solution first surely...and earlier on in the pregnancy?
For many of my mamas, at first, they might be dubious to try some of my suggestions below, but they are willing to give anything a go to avoid major surgery if at all possible. I'm so thrilled to say that I have helped and advised countless mamas in their quest to 'flip their baby' around the 'right way'. So let's dig in and actually go through the different options. There is SO much you can try from about 34 weeks but unfortunately, most women are told to just “wait and see”, which personally I don't think is helpful advice for an anxious mama. This way, you at least feel like you are achieving something.
Obviously, some babies will turn on their own, and some won't due to a valid structural reason, but here are my top 6 tips for you:
1. Yoga - Get upside down! (to be avoided if you have high blood pressure)
Why does this work? In a nutshell you are: a) Helping the baby stay out of the pelvis, and b) Helping the baby to tuck his or her chin so that baby is able to make the flip. If you aren’t used to getting into this forward-leaning position, then please get assistance to get into an inversion.
If you have practised yoga before, then you can get into Downward-facing Dog. This position can help to create more space in the lower end of the abdomen / pelvis, thus attempting to make more room for baby’s head. Hold it for about 30 seconds and repeat it at least 3 times a day. You can come to rest in Child's Pose in-between Down-Dogs.
If you find DownDog too intense, try a version of Child's Pose - instead of having your bum resting on your heels, you stick the bum up in the air, so that it is higher than the heart.
An alternative option is using the couch - please note, I would not suggest doing this without assistance. Kneeling on a couch, walk your arms to the floor, head facing down. Come onto your forearms and tuck your chin towards your chest, resting your head and neck completely. Stick your hips and bum up in the air.
2. Yoga - Bridge Pose / Bridge Tilt:
This is also a good one to practice to get baby out of the pelvis. Lying on your back, with pillows under your head and potentially your upper back, bend your knees, bringing the soles of the feet to the floor. Ensure you have cushions to place under your hips. Raise your hips up above shoulder level. This is not an easy position to get into when heavily pregnant and is not advisable to attempt unless you are assisted. If at any point you feel unwell, lightheaded or breathless, come down, and roll to your left-hand side.
If it is comfortable for you, try lying for about 10 minutes like this a few times a day...with cushions or pillows to support.
In traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion is used on people who have a cold or stagnant condition. The burning of moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the meridians, which leads to smoother flow of blood and qi. In Western medicine, moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75% of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had babies that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the Bladder meridian. Other studies have shown that moxibustion increases the movement of the fetus in pregnant women. With those stats, I definitely recommend it! When to do it? Between 34-36 weeks ideally. Look for an acupuncturist with experience in this field/women’s health.
It's important to note that as soon as you know, or suspect, that baby has turned head down, immediately stop doing any of the above tips.
Get a Pelvic Osteopathic check to look at the alignment of your pelvis, as very often misalignment is a key cause of this position. Baby knows the easiest exit route most often and ain't gonna pick a route where they are compromised on space!
Find a really experienced Reflexologist as this can also sometimes help get baby into a better birthing position. The treatment by itself is incredibly relaxing :)
6. Be Mindful Of Your Posture
This is enormous - firstly, just make sure you build lots of movement into your day. The guideline for exercise in Pregnancy is 5 x 30-minute exercise sessions per week. However, with so many people currently working from home, I recommend getting up off your bum for at least 5 minutes each hour - and if you have some stairs, even better! Go up and down the stairs a couple of times each hour to wiggle that pelvis.
We need to be focusing on keeping your hips above your knees when you are sitting, and always trying to keep your pelvis in that forward-leaning position. I also recommend getting a birthing/exercise ball to sit on during the day. You can use this ball during your yoga classes but also to lean over, again in a forward-leaning position, in the evening time as you actively encourage baby into an 'optimal' position. And of course, the ball is invaluable during labour!
I can help you stay fit, healthy, and strong in your Pregnancy, and also put you in the perfect position for experiencing an Empowering Birth, with my online Pregnancy Program, The Empowered Birth. Check it out here: https://www.nurturemamas.com/the-empowered-birth
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Big love xx
Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Yoga Instructor, mom of 3 boys all birthed naturally, working with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood. Check out all her communication & classes at NurtureMamas.com.