Turn a Breech Baby Naturally (Moms, Don't Try This at Home)
A baby in breech position can be a problem during the third trimester of pregnancy, posing issues with a natural vaginal delivery. Complications from the baby's improper positioning can pose damage to the unborn baby. This humor piece is my experience as a frustrated, expectant mother, and should never be taken as medical advice. We were young, poor, and uber-determined to avoid an external version and a Cesarean section and decided to try to turn the breech baby naturally. You won't believe the outlandish things we tried! This humorous article shows how a crazy pregnant mom can do anything she sets her heart on, with a little help from a babbling toddler.
Normal Baby Position
Baby in Breech Position
My Obstetrician Must Have Seen the Humor, But I Was Nine Months Pregnant
Last week, a few days before my visit to the obstetrician, I noticed something peculiar going on in my stomach. My stomach started to wobble and undulate like a stormy sea. Baby was inside there doing water aerobics! I didn't think much more of it until my visit to the doctor, which went something like this:
Doctor: So, how are you feeling?
Me: You mean besides having a bowling ball sitting on my pelvis? I'm not running the Boston Marathon anytime soon...
Doctor: Umm, ok then. Let's just take a look at your stomach to see how things are going.
(I lift up my shirt for the medical exam)
Doctor: Everything looks great, there's a baby inside there for sure!
Me: Great! Can I go to the restroom now?
Doctor: Wait! What's this? I think I feel your baby's head....Uh oh! It's not where it's supposed to be!
Me: Oh? Is that bad?
Doctor: Your baby is breech. Her feet are in your pelvis, instead of her head.
Me: So that's why it feels like the baby's been kicking me down there...
Doctor: Yes, she probably has! We're going to have to wait and see if she turns around by next week, or we're going to have to arrange a procedure AT THE HOSPITAL called a version.
Me: Sounds like it might hurt. Does it hurt doctor?
Doctor: (Reluctantly) Why yes, it can be quite painful...And If the procedure is successful, and nothing goes wrong, then you can have the baby naturally.
Me: What do you mean if? "If" like Cinderella going to the ball "if"?
Doctor: Well, the procedure only has a 40-60% success rate. It's expensive and it's painful, and well, sometimes the baby turns right back into breech position. Babies don't like to be forced, you know. But we can always do it again.
Me: Why can't I just have the baby vaginally with her in breech position?
Doctor: Oh, it's much too dangerous. Too many things could go wrong. Don't worry, though. You can always have a C-section. We'll just check you back next week during your next apppointment.
Me: Worry? Why worry? So, is there anything I can do to turn the baby around on my own?
Doctor: Why yes, just get down on the floor on your hands and knees, face down. Place your face and chest on the floor, and keep your bottom in the air for 10 minutes, three times a day.
Me: (Laughing out loud) That's precious! What do I really do?
Doctor: No, I'm serious, that's what you're supposed to do. Gravity will do the work.
Doctor: It's worth a try. It's a lot cheaper than what they're going to charge you at the hospital.
Me: Thanks a lot!
I leave the doctor's appointment feeling anxious and dejected. They really want me to do that?
There on the floor of my living room, with my bottom poking into the air, I think, there MUST be a better way! I sit up slowly, waiting for the blood to rush back into the correct places, and go online to search for some answers.
On the midwives' web site, here are some of the suggestions I read:
Sit In a Bathtub of Warm Water
Suggestion #1: Sit in a bathtub of warm water...
Ok, doesn't sound too bad...
Then get a bag of freezer-burned frozen vegetables and place it on the location of the baby's head. (Insert screeching record sound effect here.) Whaaat?!!
Babies have an aversion to the cold, so they will turn away from the cold toward the heat. I have an aversion to the version, so what the heck, I try it. Five minutes later my skin is developing a case of frostbite. The baby twitches a bit, but doesn't move. I have an aversion to the cold, too. Who was the sadistic person that thought that one up? Maybe I'll try something else.
My husband wants you to know that I used "A LITTLE" poetic license while writing this hub. But he did make me hold the flashlight myself.
Go to the light, baby, go to the light!
Suggestion #2: Go to the light, baby, go to the light!
Get a powerful flashlight, and point it toward your pelvis, placing the end of the light right against your skin. I've just finished my bath and have toweled off. My husband graciously offers to grab the flashlight for me and goes into the garage. He gets the biggest, heaviest Mag flashlight we own--it's about 14 inches long and weighs 4 or 5 pounds. We figure that it might help to have "gravity do the work" again, so my husband props my hips up onto 4 pillows, all stacked together, hands me the flashlight, and walks over to the sink in our bathroom to brush his teeth.
"What are you doing?"
"Brushing my teeth? What does it look like I'm doing?"
"Aren't YOU going to hold the flashlight for me."
"Sorry babe, I'm getting ready for church. Can you do it?"
I sigh one of those ancient, older-than-time-put-out-woman sighs, and do my best to hold the immense and heavy flashlight against my lower pelvis. My toddler son walks into the room.
"Uggh, Ughh, Uggh" He isn't really a talker. But he's saying "I want that flashlight mom, give me the flashlight.
"Mommy's using the flashlight right now, honey. You can use it when Mommy's done."
Toddler boy throws himself to the floor, screaming in self-styled agony. Thump! All that thrashing around causes him to smack his head on the edge of the dresser. Now he's screaming in pain. Poor little guy. If only I could move.
My husband comes over to soothe him.
"So, is it working?"
"No it isn't working" I spit out the answer in a fit of venom.
"...Well, ok, I need to finish getting ready for church now. Maybe you need to hold it a little lower"
I lay on the bed with an enormous red phallus-like object pointed at the bottom of my pelvis, and we all know what that looks like.
My 10-year old daughter wanders back into the bedroom.
"Uh, mom, what are you doing?"
"No, seriously, what are you doing?"
"I'm holding a flashlight against my stomach."
"We're trying to turn the baby."
"Uh huh. Do you think that's really going to work?" (Did I mention she's gifted?)
"I don't know, it's just one of the things you can try if the baby's breech."
My daughter gets a dark, clouded look on her face. "What does breech mean?"
"It means the baby's head is where her feet should be."
"Oh." She wanders out the room, muttering something.
My husband comes back into the bedroom, completely dressed and shaved. He is finishing the knot on his tie. "Um, are you about ready to go?"
"NO! I'm NOT ready to go!" I scream, flinging the 5-pound flashlight in his direction.
"So should I just resign myself to being half an hour late to church again?"
My toddler son wanders over to his father, picks up the flashlight, and walks out the room with it. My husband takes one look at me and clears the room quickly.
Clearly the flashlight idea isn't working.
More Bizarre Natural Suggestions
Suggestion #3: Hot Cigar
Back on the midwives' website, I read a few more suggestions. One is to hold a hot cigar against the appropriate acupressure point until mom starts to feel the burning sensation, then quickly pull the cigar away.
Um, just NO.
Singeing mom with a hot cigar sounds worse than freezing me with frozen peas.
Suggestion #4: Dad Takes Command (Ba ha ha ha ha!)
Another suggestion is to have Daddy talk to the baby from "down there" Daddy speaks into mother's pubic area with a cute, sing-songy voice would sound something like this:
"Baby? BA-BY. Are you there?"
"Come to Daddy!"
"Mommy would be much more comfortable if you would just turn AROUND."
"It's time to be born baby, let's get you in position."
"Come on, baby..."
"I'm talking to YOU baby, get over here!"
After no response...
"I'm counting to three, and if you're not here by three, I'm coming in to get you"
"Don't make me come in there!"
Yeah, I have other children. I know the power of idle threats...
Suggestion #5, Go For a Swim
The best suggestion I saw, by far, was to go swimming and DIVE into the water. Seems plausible, though I haven't tried it yet. Maybe that's why I still think it might work. And who knows? Maybe child number three will be a swimmer!
But I'll try anything once or twice...except for that cigar thing.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2008 Carolyn Augustine