Turn, baby, turn!

Turn, baby, turn!

A few weeks ago, at a routine prenatal appointment, an ultrasound technician uttered those dreaded words: “your baby is breech.” 

What?! Just a few weeks prior, the same technician had confirmed that baby was “head down and ready to go.”

I knew that a breech position wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t know that it would significantly impact my pregnancy and more so, labor and delivery. In fact, I had kind of skimmed the chapter on breech positioning in one of my favorite pregnancy books, Mama Natural. After the ultrasound, my midwife recommended I check out SpinningBabies.com, which has a bunch of exercises and stretches to encourage a baby to “flip.” Both she and the ultrasound technician also assured me that I had “plenty of time” for baby to move to a more optimal, head down position. 

A week later, baby was still breech, and I discussed with my OB what options I might have for delivery. The short answer: no options. A breech baby means a scheduled cesarean section. No chance of spontaneous labor leading up to the c-section, either — in the event something was wrong with the umbilical cord, they would erase those risks altogether.

What ensued for the next several days is what I can only describe as an onset of a growing mother’s instinct and my desperate plea/determination to “encourage” baby to turn.

By my 37 week appointment, baby had turned! I let out an elated “woo!” 

Despite friends and family who assured me that “I would just know” or that I would “definitely” feel baby “flipping,” the truth is I have no idea when he or she turned, nor which (if any) of the methods I tried worked. Maybe baby decided to turn on its own; maybe it was a combination of a little of each of the following methods. That’s perhaps besides the point, though, and I thought I’d share about my experience with the various methods I did try: 

  • Acupuncture: this came recommended via our doula and perhaps one of the strangest techniques I tried. I’d been wanting to try acupuncture for some time, and while facilities were closed for coronavirus restrictions, offices reopened just as I had the perfect excuse (breech) to make my first appointment. 

There’s a specific acupuncture point in the side of both pinky toes, which an acupuncturist will needle, then burn moxibustion incense around both needles. The mix of smoke, heat and acupuncture points stimulate the uterus, and sure enough, baby is moving in minutes! I later read that this is best for a baby that is 30-34 weeks (I was 35-36 weeks when I tried this), but nevertheless, I still felt tons of movement and found the overall process super relaxing. 

I liked this so much, in fact, that I convinced Dan to let us burn moxibustion at home, between acupuncture appointments, and am continuing on with regular prenatal acupuncture appointments up until labor.

  • Chiropractor: like acupuncture, in B.C. (Before Coronavirus) times, I was hoping to start regular chiropractic appointments at the beginning of my third trimester. And, well, that didn’t happen because of restrictions. Fortunately, though, they reopened right in time. 

While I received many recommendations from friends for local chiropractors, our doula strongly encouraged me to find someone who specializes in Webster technique. Webster technique and certification essentially means that the practitioner specializes in prenatal, pregnancy, postnatal and child care, including adjustments that prepare both mom and baby for labor — and, you guessed it — baby’s positioning. Luckily enough, I found Trailhead Chiropractors in nearby Glenwood Springs. I made regular appointments and have been enjoying better posture and overall improved spinal health in the final weeks of pregnancy.

  • Hypnosis: a toss up between this and acupuncture as my favorite “method.” Hypnobabies sells an downloadable MP3 hypnosis/meditation where in the mom-to-be relaxes and talks to her baby about turning, if it is the right thing to do for the baby. I listened to this 40-minute track for about two times a day over the course of a few days, including when Dan burned the moxibustion near the acupuncture point on my toes. I’d also listen to it at night, and it often put me to sleep. It helped me relax and connect with baby. 
  • Spinning Babies Stretches: ask any friend or midwife if she has recommendations on “turning” a breech baby, and she will, without a doubt, mention this resourceful website. It’s centered around optimal positioning for mom and baby throughout pregnancy, but it also has some very specific techniques for a breech baby.

The two exercises I practiced most were Forward Leaning Inversion and Breech Tilt. Inversion is somewhat similar to Downward Dog in yoga; I did this exercise anywhere from 7-14 times a day, holding the pose for about 30-45 seconds, for six days. Breech Tilt was more intense and difficult for me, personally — it’s essentially a supported Bridge pose from yoga, held for 10-15 minutes. I did this three times a day, also for six days, immediately after an Inversion stretch. 

I tried to do both exercises when baby was awake or moving around more than normal. A baby in motion stays in motion!

  • Essential Oils: this was a random Internet find. Apparently, the combination of a few drops of Peppermint and Frankincense has a “cooling” effect (similar to the frozen peas below), and when placed on top of the belly (near baby’s head), baby shies away and yes — in some cases, will be moved to head down. I noticed baby moving around A LOT 4-5 minutes after I did this, and I sometimes combined this with Breech Tilt.
  • Frozen Peas: not rocket science, but the theory is that placing an ice pack (or in my case, a bag of frozen veggies) near the baby’s head, will encourage him or her to “move” away from the cold and move toward warmth. While tons of people swear by this, I can’t say I felt much movement when I did it, but I did try to combine it with the Breech Tilt a handful of times.
  • Pulsatilla: I came across this floral herb in Mama Natural, when I was reading about techniques to move along labor in case it stalls out. A dosage of this is supposed to relax and “get things moving along.”

In doing a bit more reading about Pulsatilla for pregnancy and labor, I also found research and studies that suggested taking one dose of Pulsatilla, waiting for the herb to dissolve and immediately following it with the Breech Tilt exercise. This isn’t supposed to be done for more than two consecutive days, which is exactly what I did. I can’t say for sure how successful this was, but I know I will be packing this in my hospital bag — baby was moving immediately. 

I have a hunch this is what might have worked, more than anything else.

  • ECV: okay, so I actually didn’t experience this procedure but think it’s worth mentioning. An External Cephalic Version is a medical method wherein a doctor or midwife manually moves the baby by applying pressure to mom’s belly. 

My OB scheduled an ECV at our hospital, in the event she would have to perform this, and while I was open to her recommendation, I’ll admit that I had no idea everything it entailed. In the coming days before the scheduled appointment, I received a few calls from the hospital — billing information for the procedure, screening questions regarding my health and a final, longer conversation regarding the nearly full-day visit we would have at the hospiitial, as well as the anesthesia they would administer. That final call, along with more details about an epidural, which helps relax mom, kind of freaked me out. Oh, and the success rate for ECVs hovers around 60 percent, so it’s far from guaranteeing a “flip.”

In the end, though, my OB happily canceled this appointment when we found out that baby flipped less than 24 hours before, at another ultrasound appointment. Her parting words were that while I would have been an “ideal candidate” for the procedure, it also “sucks.” 


Acupuncture: Moxibustion Acupuncture – American Institute of Alternative Medicine

Chiropractor: Professional Help – Spinning Babies 

Hypnosis: “Turn Baby Turn” MP3 track – Hypnobabies

Essential Oils: Essential Oils to Turn a Breech Baby – Birth Blog 

Pulsatilla: Using Homeopathy to Turn Babies – Midwifery Today

ECV: External Cephalic Version for Breech Position – University of Michigan Medicine; The Evidence On: Breech Version – Evidence Based Birth

One thought on “Turn, baby, turn!

  1. Very different circumstances in that I had already went into labor naturally and delivered one baby naturally, but I was able to deliver the second baby, who was horizontal and directly under my rib cage, naturally! Only 22 minutes later, via ECV outside AND inside the uterus, and then ultimately a suction cup, baby #2 was pulled out without one single cut. 🙂


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