As part of the sharing portion of the childbirthing class, after the first of several potty breaks, the instructor asked us if we knew where the baby’s head is. Most people knew from their ultrasounds that the baby’s head was down. Except for mine, of course. My little one’s noggin has been jammed up against my ribs for weeks. It is a distinctively hard and round mass underneath the skin; when pressed on either by fingertips or by ultrasound, it hurts me it’s so hard. Because he’s breech, he punches and kicks me all below the belt. I haven’t had any little feet stuck in my ribs. Just jabs to my bladder and headbutts when I slouch too much.
So when the instructor heard I had a baby in breech position, she cheerfully added, “Oh you have plenty of time. He’ll turn. We’ll talk about ways to flip your baby in another class.” So when we walked in to class number two, and the instructor had a sheet of paper out at the check-in table labeled “What questions do you have?” I wrote, “How to turn a breech baby.” And during the first potty break, the instructor proceeded to demonstrate ways to turn your baby.
1. The Gorilla Walk. With legs wide, bend at the waist and walk on all fours, keeping knees and arms straight, lumbering from side to side.
2. Follow the Light, Little One. Shine a flashlight at the bottom of your belly, as babies are drawn to shiny things.
3. Talk to the Hand (or Foot, or Shoulder). Have your partner (or iPod!) talk to your baby from the bottom of your belly, as babies are drawn to the noise.
4. This Should Be Yoga Butt It’s Not. While kneeling, lean forward onto your elbows and keep your butt up in the air. Stay like that for 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day (and not after eating).
5. Show Some Moxie. Get acupuncture, the kind with the burning sticks (moxibustion), and make sure they know you’re trying to flip the baby.
6. Get Hot and Cold. Put something cold on top of your belly (like a cold can of soda or cold wet washcloth), and make sure you keep your lower belly warm at the same time. I have to admit the little one goes nuts when I have something really cold (like cold water, ice cream), I think because he gets brain freeze from his noggin sharing space with my stomach. Not that it’s helped him move anywhere.
I’m the only one in the room taking notes with this, as I’m about the only one in the room with a breech baby. The instructor does a great job of not making me feel singled out, and the other women seem to be paying attention. And then the instructor goes on to say that, “Don’t worry. Over 97% of babies will be head down by the time labor comes around.” With that, the conversation ends, and with that I turn to my husband and say, “Except I’m already in the 1% with a weird uterus, so what are the chances I’ll be in that 97%?” I’m guessing slim to none.
The next day I asked my OB what he thought about my chances of the baby flipping, and of exercises to help the baby. “Honestly,” he said with his lips drawn a little to the side, “with the reduced space in your uterus he’s probably not going to turn on his own. And many of the ways we would advise you to flip the baby [including the medical procedure] are contraindicated in women like you.” Oh, okay. Good to know. It’s not easy to even bend over to put pants on, nevermind walking around on all fours.
There are some websites out there with lots of do-it-yourself suggestions for flipping the baby. But I’m not going to list them here, since the internet is the internet, and if you’re a gal with a UU or MU like me it’s probably not wise to try it unless your doctor approves. We’ll just have to hang in there, use visualization techniques, and keep asking the baby to kindly move down, please.