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Baby Is In Breech Position, Now What?

Most little ones find their own way head down. For breech babies, there are many ways in which families can help and with plenty of time to do so.

Don't panic if baby is breech.

The baby may not stay in breech position. It is common that a baby will be breech between 27 weeks and 34 weeks of pregnancy. Most of those little nuggets will find their own way head down. Some breech babies may need a little assist to find their way head down. Often, there are many choices and opportunities to help breech babies find their way head down, and plenty of time to do it.

Know your options if baby is breech.

  • Your client can choose to do nothing.  Many families choose to wait and see if baby turns back to head down on their own.  It is okay to take this route. However, if baby does not turn head down by 36 weeks an external cephalic version (ECV) should be suggested.  This is a relatively safe procedure where an OB/GYN or Midwife will use their hands to try and turn baby head down. ECV can be very comfortable to downright painful for your pregnant client.  There is a 50% chance it will be successful. If you are or know of a well experienced ECV doctor your client can see, the chance can increase up to 70%. Whatever the case may be with your client, make sure they are asking ECV doctors for their success rate.
  • Your client may also choose to do nothing, and opt for a cesarean section. This is the most common choice of families who find out their baby is breech.

There are many complementary therapies that have been shown to be helpful in creating room in the body for baby to find their own way head down before your client chooses a cesarean section.

  • Acupuncture has a long history of assisting baby’s to find their best position.  Several studies have shown that the combination of needling and moxibustion (the burning of mugwort herb) are effective methods of helping baby find their way into best position.
  • Hypnosis is another therapy many find helpful in encouraging baby to find their way head down. Studies show that this is particularly helpful right before attempting an ECV on breech baby.
  • Chiropractic care for helping breech babies is another accessible option in most areas. The chiropractor should be prenatally certified, and if they are doing the Webster technique, they should have the Webster certification. This ensures patients are working with a doctor who is experienced and skilled in working with pregnant people.
  • Use the Body Ready Method to assess and identify what areas of the pregnant person’s body are restricted and prescribe appropriate exercise based on those findings. Finding balance and space in the tissues can help baby go head down.
  • Soft tissue therapies can be helpful to reduce stress and help soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia) become more responsive and functional.  These therapies can include, but are not limited to, massage therapy, myofascial release, Rolfing, Feldenkrais, Traeger, and many more.  These therapies can potentially create more space in the belly for baby to find their own way head down.
  • Dynamic Body Balancing™ taught by Dr. Carol Phillips is another method of bodywork that has been quite successful in helping babies find their way head down.  Carol has a listing of practitioners on her website.
  • Spinning Babies™ has a series of exercises that have been helpful for many families to help get their baby into best position.  Starting these exercises early, and doing them often garners the best outcomes according to data collected by Spinning Babies practitioners.  Here is a link to the Spinning Babies website.

Use your BRAINN:

Whenever presenting a method of helping to turn a breech baby, run through the BRAINN acronym with your client. It is a good method to be sure they choose what is correct for them and their family. What does BRAINN mean?

  • B – benefit – What are the benefits? This is an easy one.
  • R – risk – What are the risks?  Every method will have risks. There is always risk when you choose to do an intervention.  Some risks are minimal, and some are a bit scarier.  
  • A – alternative – What is the alternative?  There is always an alternative if the risk outweighs the benefit for your client. Make sure you are ready to offer one.
  • I – intuition – Make sure your client is listening to their intuition. They should do what feels right to them.
  • N – next – What happens next?  Typically with any intervention, there is a next step.  Sometimes it is homework, sometimes it is rest, sometimes it is medication.  Make sure your client knows what the procedure is for the practitioners they have chosen to work with.
  • N – nothing – What happens if we do nothing?  Often, clients have this choice.

Let your client know it is okay to only do as much as feels right.

It is easy for your pregnant clients to feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind they are going to work, going to appointments, caring for their family, and doing breech homework, it may feel ridiculously exhausting. Make sure they are only doing what feels right for them and their baby. Let them know it is more than okay to try a therapy and decide it is not for them. Everything is not for everyone. Appointments and homework need to fit into their lifestyle. It should not feel like a chore, but a choice.

Author Bio: Adrienne C. Caldwell is a bodyworker and educator. She specializes in helping create space in the human body for baby to find their best position for labor and birth. 

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