How Can I Turn My Baby to Avoid a Breech Birth?

I was told today that my baby is in a breech position. I am 34 weeks’ pregnant. I would like to know more about what I can do to turn him around. What are the best exercises, and how often should I do them? Also, if I must have a version, is it safe for the baby?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

While some breech babies rotate into a head-down (vertex) position during the last weeks of pregnancy on their own, at 34 weeks it makes sense to try some simple exercises to try to encourage him to turn around. Check with your caregiver before doing them, but for women without medical problems, they are considered quite safe.

The most commonly recommended exercise is called the "breech tilt." You simply lie down with your hips elevated about 12 inches on firm pillows, such as couch cushions. Do this three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes. It works best if done at times when the baby is active. While doing this exercise, it's important to try to do some deep relaxation and visualize the baby turning.

Another trick that has been used to encourage babies to turn is to either play relaxing music (Vivaldi and Bach seem to have the best results) or have your partner talk to the baby soothingly through your lower abdomen. You could do this separately or while doing the tilting exercise.

If these measures don't work, external version may be an option. This procedure, which involves manually rotating the baby with a particular kind of massage, is only done by experienced midwives and physicians, usually around 37 or 38 weeks. There are some risks associated with this maneuver (mostly problems with the cord), so make sure you discuss the pros and cons with your caregiver.

If that doesn't work, then you're looking at a breech birth, either vaginally or by cesarean. I wish you good luck.

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