What to do when your baby is in breech position

Handstands are not something many women see themselves doing late in their pregnancy. But if, like me, you discover your baby is in breech position, you may be willing to do anything in a bid to help turn your baby the right side up in time for birth.

While some babies move around a lot during pregnancy, medical professionals may recommend a Caesarian delivery for babies who have their bottom or legs positioned in the pelvis as the 40-week mark looms . 

This is because a feet first birth is considered more risky than a head first birth as labour can take longer and amongst other complications, the umbilical cord can become compressed or prolapsed during the birthing process.

Currently in Australia, an estimated four per cent of babies are in breech position at full term. 

The favoured medical baby-turning solution for some women when their baby is in an uncomplicated breech position is an external cephalic version (ECV) – a procedure that involves an obstetrician manually rotating the baby by applying pressure to the stomach. 

An ECV is performed as late in pregnancy as possible to limit the chances of the baby turning back around – with up to 60 per cent of ECVs resulting in successfully turning the baby into the correct position for birth.  

The procedure has some risks, including the baby becoming entangled in the umbilical cord, and is only undertaken after an ultrasound and with careful monitoring.
Doctor turning baby
Many of the popular natural ’baby turning’ techniques are based on the theory that gravity and creating the right physiological position will help a baby – with its disproportionately heavy head – move into the head down position. 

In my case, I was advised to  head to the local pool to do countless duck dives and handstands, while my husband got used to watching television in the evening with his wife’s knees up on the couch and her head on the floor – in what is known as a ‘forward leaning inversion’. 

Other popular ‘baby turning’ exercises include the pelvic tilt and the cat pose.

It goes without saying that these exercises should not be done without consulting a health care professional, and  are much easier said than done while heavily pregnant. If you are given the go ahead from your health professional, some help from your partner or a friend may be required – especially when entering and exiting positions.

But remember, as long as your baby arrives safely, it doesn’t matter  which way it arrives.
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