*Note – I didn’t get a chance to go live with this post before baby Summer arrived, but I wanted to post it as-is anyway because it’s how I was feeling at the time. In the end I wasn’t able to turn my baby, but that doesn’t mean these tips and tricks won’t work for you as they have for so many others. Happy turning!
If you’ve been following along on my pregnancy journey you’ve probably caught on that I’m obsessed with prep. Patience is not my strong suit, and waiting over 9 months for a delivery date that’s totally unknown to me has been a major life lesson to say the least. I have read so many amazing books (I’ll be posting a recap of all my favourites, along with everything else I did to get ready for baby after my little one arrives! Now live here), I’m even taking an infant CPR class this weekend.
The problem is, just like so many people tried to tell me, birth really isn’t something you can plan.
Breech births run in my family, and after hearing my mom’s treacherous vaginal breech birth story with me (induced labour for 24 hours with no pain relief, a botched episiotomy and forceps, the list goes on) it was definitely a fear in the back of my mind. Multiple midwives and healthcare practitioners confirmed baby was head down early, and I was so received that I bragged to just about everyone I could, “baby is already head down! Can you believe it?”
On Christmas eve I went in for my 34 week checkup and mentioned my own breech birth and how happy I was that baby was head down. As the midwife felt around in my belly for longer and longer, the panic started to rise. She decided to send me for an ultrasound, just to be sure, because the heartbeat wasn’t loudest in the spot it should have been, and the body parts she was feeling were altogether confusing. A couple days later I went in for the ultrasound and all of my fears were confirmed – baby was in the exact same position I myself was born in 28 years ago.
I spent the next 5 weeks frantically trying everything I possibly could to get my baby into the correct birthing position. If you’ve read my birth story you know that in my case, nothing worked, but I have no regrets about trying my absolute hardest to shift Summer in my belly, despite the outcome.
Roughly 3% of babies remain breech to term, but lots of others are breech at an earlier date and need a bit of help making the big flip while there’s still room to do so. Finding out my baby was head up was one of the most stressful, overwhelming and disappointing moments of my pregnancy, and for the weeks to follow until my birthing day it was all I thought about, every second of every day. I wanted to share everything I tried as a way to pass on my newfound knowledge, but also to simply let any breech mamas out there who are struggling with this same situation know that they’re not alone! Whether your baby turns before your due date or not, you will get through this. Until then, keep working on those breech tilts and downward dogs!
Note: I am not a doctor and everything in this post was based purely on my personal experience. Please consult your doctor or midwife if you think your baby might be breech!
The Upside Down //
There are a lot of great positions and movements you can do to use gravity and create more space in your pelvis for baby to budge. Spinning Babies was a great resource for me and came highly recommended by many of my followers. If you’re confused about what any of the positions are supposed to look like, try searching the specific name on Youtube for a video – I watched so many different versions of “breech tilt” before I felt comfortable trying it (in the end I built a ramp using my couch pillows, because I don’t own an ironing board!)
Moxibustion, Acupuncture and Webster Method Chiropractic appointments at West End Mamas //
Before pregnancy I had never had acupuncture or chiropractic work, and all I knew about Moxibustion was that it was the thing Jane The Virgin tried to turn her baby, which led to her falling asleep and almost burning her house down (that said, her baby turned haha). West End Mamas offers lots of different treatments and support to help with turning baby, like chiropractic hip adjustments to make sure there’s as much space as possible (the Webster technique specifically), and acupuncture to encourage baby to move more. The moxibustion is also meant to get your baby moving, and it’s basically like burning a giant stick of incense by your pinky toe (the hotter/closer the better, but it’s VERY easy to burn yourself!) Dr. Kinga at West End Mamas will burn the moxa stick for you while the acupuncture needle is in the same baby toe point, and I found that the most helpful (I can’t say I’m a huge believer in acupuncture, but Summer moved a lot in those appointments!) If you’re not based in Toronto, many acupuncture practitioners will offer this service, you just might need to shop around a bit. You can also order the moxa sticks online – I used this brand, though my at-home daily sessions ended in a burnt pinky toe and a burn in my favourite area rug. Oops!
If you see a hugely pregnant woman doing flips in the slow lane at your local public pool, she’s probably trying to turn her breech baby! I liked this option because it felt good to be in the pool getting some exercise regardless, and it was a bit less awkward and weightless feeling compared to some of the other upside down positions – downward dog at 38 weeks is no easy feat!
Bouncy Balls //
Is there anything a birthing ball (aka exercise ball) can’t fix? I ordered mine around month 7 and I seriously wish I had one in my life sooner. It’s great for your pelvis and hips, and even if your baby isn’t breech it can really help with getting them into optimal birthing position. Bouncing on the ball has also proven to be the only thing that calms Summer down outside of the womb this past month, so I can’t speak highly enough of this (very affordable) investment. Lots of women also use them for supported positions during labour too!
Long Walks //
By the end of pregnancy baby’s head is the heaviest part of their body, so naturally they should drift head down, and walking can help gravity do what it does best. I walked my dog as much as I could right up until my c-section date and it really helped me feel strong and healthy, even if it didn’t end up working as a flip method.
Hot and Cold “treatments” //
I did a lot of sitting in a hot bath to try and encourage my baby to flip towards the warmth, and sometimes I’d even put an ice pack at the top of my belly near baby’s head to try and convince her it was more fun to hang out head down in my pelvis. I read a lot about this one on the internet and though it’s debatable if baby can actually feel the cold in there, it absolutely created a lot of movement with Summer, so I think it was worth a shot (though it felt a bit mean and I was nervous to keep the ice pack on too long in case it caused some sort of brain freeze).
Music Lessons //
There are many tales online about people shining lights into their vaginas, having their partner talk down there and encourage baby to flip, or playing calming music to their lower pelvis with headphones. I made a recording of myself talking to Summer and played that down low every morning, hoping she’d follow the sound of my voice. I also tried playing really loud obnoxious music where I could feel her head when she was already moving a lot to try and encourage her to flip away from it (my annoying music of choice was Skrillex, but who knows, maybe she’ll grow up to love it now haha!)
Photos by Scarlet O’Neill