Tell me everything about turning breech babies.
March 29, 2014 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm nearly 34 weeks pregnant with my second baby. Baby is currently breech. I need some advice on methods for turning a breech baby based on what seemed most effective for you.

This is my second pregnancy and I'm almost 34 weeks along. My first pregnancy ended in a cesarean at 37 weeks for a variety of reasons, including preeclampsia, malpositioned baby [slightly oblique], and "failure to progress" after an induction for the pre-e. I am planning on having a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with this baby.

However, baby is currently breech, and nobody around here will attend a breech birth. My local hospital "bans" VBACs regardless of baby's presentation so they will definitely not do a breech VBAC. Breech presentation equals an automatic c-section where I am, which I would really like to avoid if I can help it.

Because there are so many suggestions on how to turn a breech baby, I'd like to pick a few of the most effective and focus on them. If you've seen it suggested, I've probably tried it, but it's getting exhausting trying to figure out what methods I should be trying each day, especially if some of them are more likely to work than others and it's hard to guess which is which. I don't know of anybody personally who has had a breech baby regardless of whether the baby turned vertex or not, so I'm turning to AskMeFi for advice.

In case it's relevant:
- I'm exhibiting no signs of preeclampsia for this pregnancy. Hurray!
- My midwife is totally on board with me trying out various methods for turning a breech baby and has given me her own suggestions already.
- My midwife is pretty confident the baby will still turn and says I definitely have adequate fluid for her to do so.
- Baby's bottom isn't engaged in my pelvis, so we think she's not yet "committed" to being breech.
- I will probably end up trying an ECV at term if the baby doesn't turn before then, so that's still an option.

Things I have tried already:
inversions, breech tilts, hypnotherapy (Hypnobabies, including the breech track), homeopathic pulsatilla, hot and cold packs, acupressure on the pinky toe, spending lots of time on hands-and-knees, chiropractic care (have not specifically tried the Webster technique only because the closest practitioners are an hour away, but I'd be more than willing to travel that far to do it), and I have some moxibustion sticks en route to me that I will try out once they arrive.

I'd like to know the following:
1. Did you have a breech baby that turned vertex late in the game? How many weeks were you?
2. Was the turning spontaneous or did you try any methods to turn the baby? What methods did you think were most effective?
3. How panicked should I be about the baby being breech at 34 weeks? My midwife is pretty relaxed about it right now and is confident she'll turn, but everything I read online (I know, I know) makes it seem like if baby's there, she's there for good. It's making me nervous.
4. Do you have any advice for keeping my head on straight during this waiting game? I was so focused on not getting preeclampsia again that it did not occur to me that I could have some other problem that would end with me having a c-section. My previous c-section was not a positive experience and I'm not keen on repeating it, which is why this breech thing feels very "high stakes" to me.

I'd really appreciate any studies or anecdotes or anything you can give me. Also, I've definitely seen and have been utilizing
posted by meggan to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My little girl just turned a month old. She was breech until 37 weeks. I had an ultrasound to check her growth and found out she'd flipped herself. I didn't do anything to make her turn as I had a planned csection for reasons unrelated to positioning.

My doctors said not to worry about breech positioning until after 36 weeks. Apparently a good percentage of babies will move into position late in the game.

Best wishes to you for a safe delivery!
posted by MadMadam at 2:57 PM on March 29, 2014

My baby was breech up until 39 weeks and then she turned on her own and was born at 40w 2 days. My midwife wasn't to concerned because babies usually turn so don't panic yet! Stay hydrated and keep your fluid levels up. I know that's not exactly technique advice but I hope it helps alleviate some stress.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:59 PM on March 29, 2014

I am 33 weeks pregnant with my second and my baby is breech! Sounds like you are doing everything possible. Just a warning - I have been told by a number of women whose babies turned late in the game that it can really hurt. So, as there is a good chance that your baby will still turn, be prepared that it might hurt for a minute. I was glad someone told me that or I would probably be scared if it happened to me.
posted by amro at 3:27 PM on March 29, 2014

Oh, and a method that you didn't mention (I haven't tried any of them, so don't know if it works but it makes me giggle) is playing music with the speaker pointed at your vagina and flashing a flashlight on and off on your lower abdomen. Supposedly these both may attract the baby in that direction and get her to turn head down.
posted by amro at 3:31 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Turned the evening before a scheduled induction (attempt at external version to be followed by c-section if needed) at 41 weeks. No particular intervention...I was doing a lot of laundry that night, so maybe try that.
posted by lakeroon at 3:41 PM on March 29, 2014

Best answer: I had a typical pregnancy until I found out my baby was breech at 36 weeks. I tried all those things with no luck and ended up trying the external version at 37.5 weeks.

The external version was very painful (felt like they were trying to re-organize my organs). I had watched a you tube video where it looked like a doctor poked the woman's belly and the baby turned. My doctor explained that babies with that much room to move are easy to flip.. And may easily flip back themselves.

I don't think you necessarily need to panic but I wish I had tried the version on the earlier side. I am petite and since it was my first pregnancy, my uterus hadn't expanded beyond the point it was at before. My baby wasn't huge (7 pounds 1 ounce) but I feel like I would have had a better chance if I had tried the version at 36w instead of 37.5w.

And I wish I had mentally prepared for a c section as soon as I found out she was breech. I had attended a birthing class and of course had not paid attention to the c section portion because that wasn't going to be me! Instead, at 37.5w after two failed external versions where I cried and and got a bruised belly, I was told I was having a c section in 1.5 weeks and I was no where near prepared. I wish I had mentally prepared sooner and if she flipped, I would have been pleasantly surprised. I felt like I had had 37.5w to prepare to have a vaginal birth and then only 1.5w in a hormonal state to make the switch.

All the best to you. Hopefully your baby flips!
posted by polkadot at 3:52 PM on March 29, 2014

My baby was breech from 32 to 36 weeks. I'm now 39 weeks and he/she seems to have figured out where the exit is. So far so good.

I was transverse breech so that might make a difference for you, but what seemed to help was leaning forward on a yoga ball and bouncing. Also always sitting with my pelvis askew (one leg bent when I was sitting on the couch for example), to encourage it to slip one way or the other.

Good luck, breech vaginal delivery has some pretty significant (relatively) risks for baby and the ECV was not something I would have comfortably considered (painful, long shot, can cause significant decels in baby, would need an immediate induction for greatest chance of success), so I was staring a c-section in the face too. Keep in mind that you've got plenty of time and most breech babies flip on their own!
posted by lydhre at 4:20 PM on March 29, 2014

Best answer: My second kid was breech. I did the massage/ Rolfing/get her to turn, all of which did nothing. So I had a c-section and a lovely baby who still has a mind of her own, 22 years later. You can do lots of stuff, but if all the various techniques don't make her turn and you have a c-section, you'll have a wonderful baby. This is an instance where the result matters more than the process. Your baby will impact your life more than your birthing experience.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:40 PM on March 29, 2014 [7 favorites]

My baby (1 month, nursing as I type this one handed) flipped at 37+ weeks, just before a scheduled external version. I was in the OB's office on a Friday morning to confirm position and by Tuesday afternoon, when they hooked me up to the monitors in the hospital to prep for the ECV, she had rotated.

I used some of the positions on and had a chiropractor do the Webster technique -can't say if any of that helped or if she'd have flipped on her own, but I had a textbook vaginal delivery 3 weeks after she flipped. I was quite surprised she flipped - mentally I was prepping for a scheduled c section.
posted by data hound at 5:02 PM on March 29, 2014

My first kid was transverse at 39 weeks. I had an external version, in a hospital with an epidural, and it was the weirdest sensation of my life but not painful. It worked, and he was born vaginally two or three weeks later.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:12 PM on March 29, 2014

My baby was breech and couldn't be repositioned because of complications so c-section. What I was told and read was that breech deliveries are getting rarer because you need experience to do them safely, and it's a chicken-and-egg problem that because they can now be diagnosed ahead of delivery and c-sections are safer compared to a non-experienced breech delivery. Weirdly a paramedic could have more breech birth experience these days!

You're really like to be able to turn the baby and do a VBAC, but a good plan B that might help would be to plan and talk to your hospital on how to make a second c-section a better experience - like scheduling it, having your partner with you or outside, making sure they will give you the baby immediately etc etc. That way if the 90% VBAC doesn't work, you have a better 10% alternate.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:02 PM on March 29, 2014

My wife was around 39 weeks when acupuncture worked. It was such a huge relief.
posted by umbú at 8:42 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

My 9lb baby girl turned breach at 40 weeks. I tried a version (it was pretty painful) but it didn't work. She turned back head down on the OR table about 30 seconds before the c-section was about to start. I had tried yoga and hanging around on my hands and knees on the stairs with my head at the bottom and my feet 5 steps up (not comfortable). I think it's a "what's will happen, will happen". FYI I felt her flip breach, it was really uncomfortable, but I didn't feel her turn heads down at all so you may not feel your baby turn. Good luck!!
posted by saradarlin at 9:57 PM on March 29, 2014

Mine flipped after I did handstands in the water. I could feel the flip while I was still in the pool. I think I did three handstands of maybe 15 seconds each? My husband held my ankles to keep me upright. It was weird but it worked!
posted by ohio at 11:12 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have a family member who is a 20+ year labor and delivery nurse. I just showed her your question and her opinion is a) don't panic, it's still early, she has lots of time to flip on her own, and b) external version with a very experienced practitioner has the highest chance for success.
posted by anastasiav at 10:26 AM on March 30, 2014

One of mine was breech for several months until the day he was born full-term- two days past due date- 8 1/2 pounds with a large head. I didn't feel him turn, but I was on bed rest for mild pre-eclampsia.
posted by mareli at 2:24 PM on March 30, 2014

The only thing I can think of that you didn't already mention is Rebozo sifting. I had a doula who is trained in sifting, and though I didn't like it during labor, it can help reposition babies. He recommended doing sifting before the external version for my friend whose baby was breach. Maybe you could find a doula trained in sifting through DONA.
posted by Safiya at 8:50 AM on March 31, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences! It really helps to hear from people who have gone through this before.

I have good news - my midwife was able to turn the baby at my last appointment and it seems like the baby's staying head-down for now! It was definitely uncomfortable, but I can't even tell you how relieved I am and I'm glad we tried turning her early. Now I just have to hope she gets used to this position and doesn't try to turn again!
posted by meggan at 9:49 AM on April 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

That's wonderful news and I am glad it wasn't too painful. Here's hoping she stays bottoms up!!
posted by saradarlin at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2014

I'm so glad to hear that she turned, meggan!
posted by umbú at 7:30 PM on April 13, 2014

Response by poster: Quick update now that the baby is here - she did stay head-down! I labored at home and made it as far as pushing, but she didn't tolerate labor well (meconium in the amniotic fluid and baaaaad heart rate decelerations with pushing) and we ended up transferring to the hospital right at the end where I had a repeat c-section.

The whole hospital/surgery experience was so vastly different than my first birth that even though I didn't get my homebirth VBAC, I'm surprisingly okay with how everything turned out. Recovery has been so much better than the first time around, too.

Requisite baby photo! Her name is Thora.
posted by meggan at 6:14 PM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

What a gorgeous newborn! I'm glad you're both okay.
posted by umbú at 7:21 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by saradarlin at 1:30 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, she's adorable.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:52 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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