Monday, November 26, 2012

How I Tried to Flip my Breech or Transverse Baby. Success at 33 weeks!

I really struggled with a title for this post because I don't have any proof that what I did actually turned my breech baby.  I can't call it 'How to Turn a Breech Baby' because the common belief is that they'll flip on their own, and I can't say that's not what happened.  All I can say is that after I realized US doctors aren't trained to perform breech births, I tried several ways, positions, and exercises to turn a breech baby, and he turned!  All of this happened between about 28 and 32 weeks pregnant.  Often, I was able to determine my baby's position at home on my own and most of the time he flipped between transverse and breech, but he was vertex a few times.  At my 20 week and 30 week ultrasounds he was transverse, so I never was able to have a doctor confirm breech, just transverse (he was usually transverse in the mornings and that's when all my appts are).

Any woman hoping to avoid a c-section starts to get nervous when they hear their baby isn't vertex, and there's nothing more annoying than hearing 'don't worry, he'll turn on his own' over and over again.  I've dealt with infertility several times in my life, and hearing 'don't worry, he'll turn' is very similar to knowing you have a diagnosed fertility problem and hearing 'just relax and it will happen.'  If doing nothing has produced a baby in a breech or transverse position, it doesn't make sense to keep on doing nothing and expect a different outcome.  I chose to act, and feel like my actions made a big difference.  I started with the popular spinning babies program and went from there. Here's what I did and sources for further research.  Obviously, none of these exercises should be attempted without consulting your doctor or if they don't feel right and comfortable.

  • Belly Button Always Pointing Down
    • Imagine a line coming straight out of your belly button.  If you lean forward, it points to the floor because you're belly button is now aimed down.  If you lean back, it points to the ceiling.  One of the principles of the the spinning babies program is that gravity is your strongest ally when trying to turn the baby.  Babies are top heavy, and their heaviest part will naturally go down if nothing is preventing it.  Always sitting upright with your belly button aimed down, and never reclining or sitting in a slouching position will allow gravity to constantly be at work to try to turn the baby. 
  • Sleep Positioning
    • When sleeping, the same principles apply, lay on your side or even slightly on your stomach so that your belly button is pointing down. After following the program for a week and able to mentally monitor the babies position, I noticed I had much better results when I slept on my left side, but I don't know if this is true for everyone or just due to my oddly positioned transverse baby. I had my biggest setbacks when I accidentally rolled on to my back in my sleep. Whatever his position, he'd always be so much higher up in the morning and never made any progress while if I'd slept on my back.
  • Don't suck it in!
    • Being an active woman, I've always been interested in strengthening my core and have been taught to keep my stomach muscles tight at all times.  When working towards a flat belly, this helps you use those muscles more often for every day activities and increases core strength.  I'd especially be sure to keep those muscles tight when running.  It wasn't until I started spinning babies that I focused on giving baby as much room to move as possible, and realized I was still trying to 'suck it in' despite my giant belly.  I had to re-train myself to keep my stomach muscles loose at all times.  It's still hard.  I use the baby's movements as a reminder, and check to make sure my stomach muscles are relaxed every time he moves.  I've observed myself in front of the mirror, and it's amazing how much space those tight muscles take away from baby.
  • Inversions
    • A forward leaning inversion is another exercise to stretch out those belly muscles and ligaments so the baby has more room to move.  I try to remember to do these daily, but probably only actually do them three times a week.  The idea is to have knees resting on a chair or sofa, and elbows on the floor.  This puts you in a nearly upside down position so the weight of the belly can relax the muscles and ligaments normally in use, and stretch out the others. I have no idea if I'm doing it right!  It seems like there's a lot of room for error, but I do think they help.  Here's a video demonstration of this technique reccommended by spinning babies. When I am consistent about doing inversions, I end up with less round ligament pain, and it seems the baby has an easier time moving into optimal position.
  • Breech Tilt
    • I have never tried a breech tilt myself, but I couldn't write a post on how to turn a breech baby without mentioning it.  The breech tilt should not be performed before 30 weeks, and for this reason, I decided to wait until after my 30 week appt to confirm the baby was still transverse.  He was, but by that time he was often in the vertex position.  I felt like if I continued practicing the other methods, he would spend less and less time in the transverse position and breech tilts would be unnecessary.  Specific instructions on breech tilt can be found here, but it involves laying on an incline for twenty minutes or more at a time to give the baby more time and room to turn.  It's not as intense as an inversion, so it can be done for longer amounts of time, but it requires more preparation.  You need to be laying flat, but on an incline.  I did have an old door I was going to use for this, but was already having success with the other methods by the time I was far enough along to try it.  My baby still goes transverse from time to time, and occasionally even breech so there may come a time closer to 40 weeks when I attempt these.
  • See a Chiropractor
    • This is certainly the most expensive method, but potentially one of the most effective.  As much as you can stretch and manipulate muscles and ligaments, there's nothing like being about to adjust the bones to which those ligaments attach.  I decided to see a chiropractor, and was reasonably happy with my experience.  I went to this website to find a chiro certified in the webster technique for pregnant women.  I didn't necessarily want the technique done, but I hoped someone certified in that technique would be used to working with pregnant women.  I found a doctor in my area, and he does specialize in working with children and pregnant women.  Most of the adjustments he performed were more to loosen ligaments rather than popping bones.  He said I was already very well aligned, so not a lot had to be done.  I'm not sure seeing him made a difference at all, but it will emotionally make me feel better about whatever birth I have because I'll be able to say that I tried everything.  With my last birth, I had such a long labor and regretted not seeing a chiro beforehand.
  • Walk
    • I was able to run 3 or 4 days a week this pregnancy until my belly became to large and heavy at about 27weeks, and since then I have been quite the walker.  I generally walk 20miles a week, and most of that is on the treadmill at an incline.  Exercise is so important for an easier birth experience, but is it as beneficial for optimal fetal positioning?  I'm not convinced.  I walked 5 miles a day the 3 weeks before my son was born and although he was vertex, he was not optimally positioned and I labored 49hrs with him.  After my walks now, my belly feels very tight and I worry that it reduces the amount of room he has to move.  I DO feel like it helps engage his head in the pelvis and move him down when he's positioned correctly, but then it seems reasonable that walking would move him down and make it more difficult for him to move if he was breech.  Walking is supposed to help flip a breech baby, but I think it's more that staying active results in a healthier pregnancy and healthy pregnancies result in well positioned babies.  In my very limited experience, I can't say walking has helped my baby flip and it may have even hindered the process.  Of course, I feel the benefits of exercise far outweigh the negative.  The tight belly doesn't last very long, and when possible I try to do an inversion after a work out to counteract the effects.

1 comment:

  1. you are sooo commited amd Focusrd!!! Way to gp Margaret!!
    Do u swim..also great cardio....yes I agree healthy active exercisecyield happy baby ....we had 6#9oz at (supposed ) 40 wk+6days....
    Interesting about chiro!!! You are taking awesomme care of your body and?? eTing kale??