If you are pregnant, you'll spend a lot of time at your doctor's office, particularly as you get into the final stretch. By the time you are 36 weeks pregnant, your little one will most likely be in the head-down position in anticipation for the birth. According to BabyCenter, 97% of babies are in the head-first position by the time they are full-term, which happens at 37 weeks. For the three percent of babies who are buttocks- or feet-first, also called breech, a C-section will usually be scheduled, because breech deliveries are more dangerous for the mom and the baby. There are some ways that you might be able to get your baby to flip over into the head-first position, however.
In the weeks prior to you reaching full-term, your doctor or midwife will be checking to see if your baby is head-down. If you get past 32 weeks and your baby is still not head-down, there are some positions you could try to get him or her to turn.
One is to get on your hands and knees, with your shoulders lower than your hips. Gently tilt your pelvis forward. Hold this position for several seconds, then relax. You can repeat this several times per day. A side benefit to this position is that it will stretch out your lower back muscles and might relieve any back strain that is common toward the end of pregnancy.
Another position that might help is to hold yourself upside down in a swimming pool. The water will support your weight and will probably feel great on your joints, too. Of course, you'll only be able to hold this pose for a few seconds at a time, which is fine; the point is just to stimulate your baby to flip.
Webster Chiropractic Technique
Many chiropractors have had luck with the Webster chiropractic technique. During this technique, your chiropractor will align the bones in your pelvis. This relaxes the ligaments holding up the uterus, and once they relax, your baby may have enough room to flip over to the head-down position. Ask your chiropractor if he or she has experience with this technique; if not, they can refer you to another chiropractor who has had success with this method.
Chinese medicine, specifically acupressure and acupuncture, can be a healthy and beneficial part of your pregnancy. Moxibustion is a technique that can turn breech babies; this is particularly effective before 36 weeks, but can be tried later in pregnancy as well. A Chinese herb called Moxa, which is sometimes called Mugwort, is rolled into a stick and heated. This heated stick is placed over acupressure points, especially one located on the pinky toenails.
You can massage your belly or have your partner or a friend do it to stimulate your baby to flip over. One way is to apply lotion or massage oil to your belly and to rub your entire baby bump in a clockwise motion, using long strokes.
External Cephalic Version (ECV)
Your obstetrician can try to manually push the baby into the correct position with a procedure called external cephalic version, or ECV. This is generally done at the very end of pregnancy, after 37 weeks. The reason for this is that there is the risk that your baby could get entangled in the umbilical cord with this procedure, so an emergency delivery might be warranted. If the procedure is successful, you'll need to stay at the hospital for a period of time for the baby to be monitored to be sure that it's safe for you to go home and wait to go into labor.
In the worst case, none of these methods will work and your breech baby will refuse to flip over into the head-down position. The good news is that C-section births are very safe, and in most cases, you can be awake for the delivery and can touch your baby soon after the birth. Talk to your obstetrician or midwife before trying any of these strategies, and discuss your concerns with your acupuncturist and chiropractic specialist as well.