By the end of the second trimester, 25% of babies are in the breech position. The word breech refers to breeches, or an old-fashioned type of pants!! In terms of childbirth, a breech baby is presenting “pants first,” with legs or buttocks coming before the body and head.
Babies who are still breech at the beginning of the third trimester will most likely turn. They can turn by themselves at their own time, with some help using the recommended techniques to make room, or through an External Cephalic Version (ECV) performed by a professional.
Whilst women may not be able to fully control the position of the baby, it is proven that the chances of baby turning significantly increase with the use of the special recommended techniques described below.
Creating Space for Baby to Turn Head Down
In most pregnant people, the bottom of the uterus is somewhat narrower than the top – just like an (upside down) pear. This shape allows for it to be able to naturally receive the baby’s head during the second half of pregnancy. The pear-shape of the uterus and gravity helps the baby’s head stay down – usually!
But for the baby to get into a head- down position this space in the lower uterus needs to be accessible. If this space is narrowed by the uterine ligaments being tight, the uterus tips or twists and the baby must find a different position to settle into. Lengthening the ligaments and muscles attached to and surrounding your uterus helps them equalise their pulling and support and therefore, make the most room for the baby’s head.
Good postures provide more anatomical room for the baby. Sitting with knees lower than the hips is very important. Scrunching your knees up and your shoulders down reduces the room around the womb and holds the baby in an unfavourable position.
Tight abdominals are a recognized reason first babies may be breech. But very loose abdominals, as you might expect with the more pregnancies experienced, might not be able to support the womb well enough. The womb shape may be rounder and thus allow the breech position. A pregnancy belt may be helpful in this case.
A tight or tilted pelvic floor, tight buttocks, or tension in the diaphragm, which is located between the ribs, are also other body imbalances with possible results of a breech position. To allow your ribs to expand, forget the bra. Less constriction around the ribcage allows deep, long inhales to expand the rib cage.
Avoid squatting when you have a breech baby in the third trimester until the head is down or you are in labour. Squatting towards the end of your pregnancy aids the presenting part to descend deeper into the pelvis. Therefore, it is something which you would want to prevent if you are trying to assist your baby to turn into the head up, or cephalic position.
Balance before Gravity and Movement
Regular movement in pregnancy, such as walking, or swimming helps to maintain neutral pelvis and good balance. With pregnancy comes the added weight and your body will try to overcompensate that weight with bad posture whilst putting your body out of balance. Thus, maintaining balance and good posture allows gravity to assist in turning a breech baby and eventually, help the baby engage during childbirth. However, gravity and movement techniques alone can sometimes prove not enough to help a breech baby move into an optimal position.
Body balancing involves releasing muscles that are too tight, supporting those too loose, and untwisting the ligaments and connective tissues surrounding the uterus and pelvis. Body balancing involves both a slow stretch and a gentle jiggle to various parts of the body. After the body is balanced when you get into a gravity-friendly position, the baby has a better chance to turn.
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called moxa are burned very near the surface of the skin. By itself It has been found to be 80% effective when done correctly.
As you decide how much time and energy to put into helping your baby turn head down, find a balance between feeling like you did as much as you could, but not so much that makes you feel stressed. What’s important is knowing that you gave yourself and your baby the opportunity to turn head down safely. No matter what happens, whether the baby turns or not, whether you have a vaginal birth or a caesarean, please do now what will help you feel satisfied with yourself.
Give yourself an experience of friendly exploration of what you and your baby can do together! This is an important time with much to learn and experience.
At Aqua Mummies – We are here for you! If your baby is breech, talk to us, and we will give you specific tips and teach you the specific tricks and can give you options of what we, as qualified midwives and aqua instructors can offer you to help you in the specific circumstances.