In my first pregnancy my breech baby had stayed head up until 34/35 weeks and she moved pretty much the morning after an amazing reflexology session – I actually remember feeling her shimmy on round! I’m pretty positive that the main reason she turned then was because I was so relaxed emotionally and physically – my muscles were relaxed too meaning that there was more room for manoeuvre.
This second-time round I felt sure that my baby wouldn’t be breech, because, well, I’m much more active this pregnancy. I no longer commute 3 hours a day (I would always drive or car-share and car seats just aren’t great for getting baby in the optimal position, as they’re bucket-like, meaning your knees are higher than your hips, creating less space down below), nor am I sat at a desk all day. Instead I’m pushing my daughter Immy on swings, taking her for walks and playing hide and seek!
When I am sat down now it’s to teach The Wise Hippo and as these are 2.5 – 3 hour classes (depending on how much we chat or how many questions there are), I was feeling pretty pleased with my posture and the fact that I was up and about for most of my time. I was possibly I was a bit too confident
Because as it turns out, this baby hasn’t been breech for the majority of my pregnancy . Oh no, he’s been in a transverse (sideways) position instead! You might wonder how I know this? Well firstly I’ve felt it – especially as he’s grown, his head nudging against my ribs has been a bit uncomfortable. But just incase I wasn’t sure I’ve had to have lots of scans this time round – for Papp-A, a subject I will save for another blog! And the sonographers have told me each time that he’s lying sideways, wedged against my ribs!
Now I often teach clients whose babies are not in the best position and really this is nothing to be concerned about until it gets closer to your good guess date (edd) – as most babies will move round when the head starts weighing more than their bottom. So when I reached 34 weeks I thought it was time to take matters into my own hands and a good excuse to trial the methods we talk about in class.
Obviously this would be the first one I pick – not that I’m biased or anything. Now we always talk about how the baby and mum are one, my baby is part of my body and if I can change how I physically feel through my thoughts (when I’m stressed or anxious I tense my shoulders and neck, which then leads to a headache) then of course it follows that my thoughts affect my baby.
So I listened to a breech script, (something I can now offer to clients as an extra private hour session) and firstly it relaxed me, it also took any pressure off me, making me realise that I need to hand over responsibility to my baby, he will know when it’s right to move.
Hypnotherapy for turning breech babies is said to be more effective than an ECV (see two paragraphs below), and I know he moved after this because I saw my midwife two days later. Ok, so he’d moved to the breech position (head up) rather than transverse, but hey, he obviously has my sense of direction, and at least he’s moving, and it’s way more comfy than transverse. I’m going to continue on with this at least once a week.
This is such an amazing resource packed full of useful information, I’ve spent a long time reading and researching on this website and it’s something I’ve recommended to clients with great results.
It has specific exercises tailored to the position your baby is in. It also breaks the exercises up into daily and weekly exercises and has videos and blog posts explaining them in more detail. There’s also some great information for positioning yourself in the best way when you’re resting or sleeping.
Plus, the exercises are fun and some are a little crazy! Lying upside down on an ironing board anybody? Or kneeling on the sofa with your forearms flat on the floor? I’ve been doing these and it’s amazing how much all the muscles around your baby, that you might not even have realised were tense, relax. So do try these at home, but don’t try them by yourself!
Full disclosure – after doing the spinning babies exercises and hypnosis track for a week or so, my midwife came to do my home birth visit and felt that my baby was 2/5ths engaged and in the ideal position. So I did/am trying some of the below but not all, however I have many clients who have tried the ones I haven’t successfully.
Yoga, walking and swimming are all great in terms of relaxing the muscles and getting into postures where you’re making a hammock for your baby. For yoga think cat stretches, on all fours back arched and belly relaxed. It’s always good to stay mobile in pregnancy and towards the end it can help ease any discomfort or aches you’re feeling.
For one of my clients, this was the thing that worked – she’d tried everything on this list apart from the hypnosis, and she was 37 weeks when ECV did the trick. It’s a procedure where an obstetrician tries to turn the baby into a head-down (cephalic) position by applying pressure on your abdomen. It’s safe, although it can be a bit uncomfortable. Around 50% of breech babies can be turned using ECV, and of those, most stay head-down, allowing you to have a normal birth.
5. Relax – reflexology
So if we know that a woman’s lower uterine segment tightens under stress, which makes it harder for baby to settle head down, then it shows once again how important relaxation during pregnancy is.
Meditate. Walk. Slow down. Listen to music. Listen to your Wise Hippo MP3. Have a bath. Have a massage. Pamper yourself. I actually had a reflexology session on the morning of my home birth visit, although I didn’t feel him move during or afterwards, it could have been this mega-relaxing treatment that did the trick!
Ok, so don’t get me wrong I am very grateful that my baby turned but I was hoping to try this one out. Moxibustion is generally carried out by an acupuncturist. It is an externally applied treatment using a Chinese herb called Moxa . The Moxa is compressed and rolled into a cigar-shaped herbal stick. Moxa sticks are then lit and held over acupuncture points. The heat produced has the effect of stimulating the point.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, moxa has a warming effect which promotes movement and activity. The nature of heat is also rising. This warming and rising effect is utilised to encourage the baby to become more active and lift its bottom up in order to gain adequate momentum to summersault into the head down position.
Remember you’re the vehicle for your baby, so you want to keep your knees lower than your hips when sitting on sofas or at a desk. Standing up and walking around as much as you can each day is also important. And one of the best buys you can make during your pregnancy is to get a gym or birth ball to sit on or lean your arms and chest on (whilst kneeling) – again it helps create that hammock for your baby and takes pressure off your lower back.
When resting or sleeping grab some pillows! Make a little pillow nest underneath your belly to lean on, which is comfortable for baby to settle into and it’s comfy for you. If you want to lie on either side, make sure one hip is directly over the other – like a right angle, with a pillow between your knees and ankles to help. Change sides frequently to help keep the uterus a little more symmetrically balanced.
Turn baby turn
Now, I’m sure my baby would have turned anyway, but I found listening to the hypnosis track and being more conscious about my posture, as well as trying crazy exercises (being upside down on the ironing board whilst watching an episode of Parks and Recreation is something I’ll never forget about this pregnancy) a positive and proactive thing to do.
Interestingly though, if I hadn’t had to have extra scans I don’t think I would have had any anxiety about my baby boy’s position. And I see this with lots of my clients. They have to have a growth scan or an extra scan around 31 weeks and are told baby is breech, which they probably wouldn’t have known without the scan. Then they can be made to feel like they’re on the clock and this produces extra worry or pressure.
However, as my midwife says: ‘Generally I’m not concerned about Breech babies until around 34 weeks and for second or subsequent babies it would be even later – maybe 36 weeks’. But, although natural breech births are getting less common, you still have options if your baby remains breech – perhaps hiring an independent midwife or travelling to a hospital further afield if needs be. It’s always worth checking hospital policies online. If my baby had stayed breech I would have headed to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford where breech deliveries are more common.
So, the points that have stayed with me will sound familiar to all those who’ve been to a Wise Hippo class – trust in your baby and body, watch your posture, relax and wait patiently, and empower yourself by doing your research and finding out all your options.