Steps to Improve Baby’s Position
Are you concerned about a breech baby presentation? This brings some women into my office late in their pregnancy. They may not have considered chiropractic care during pregnancy before, but they've heard that chiropractors are good at turning babies.
That's not exactly true. Chiropractors are great at helping babies get into their optimal position, but this isn't because we're turning the baby; we simply improve the way the body moves and functions in a gravity environment, and this typically leads to baby finding itself in the head down (or vertex) position when it comes time to exit the womb.
But I'll be honest: seeing a woman at 35 weeks because she just heard from her provider for the first time that her baby is breech is not my favorite situation. It sort of puts mom (and me) in a crunch-time scenario that really isn't necessary. For starters, a breech baby does not necessarily mean a Cesarean section is imminent. For more on this, check out the documentary Heads Up (I'm screening this soon in Raleigh - stay tuned!). But unfortunately, most providers aren't comfortable with a breech presentation, so they give moms the grim news of their limited options: do an ECV (external cephalic version, or "version" - a painful and somewhat risky procedure wherein providers manually attempt to turn a baby from the outside of mom's belly), schedule a C-section, or go ahead and give that chiropractic thing a try. Obviously, trying out the chiropractor is a decent option for those moms wishing to have a vaginal birth. But what if there's another way? What if you could encourage an optimal baby position THROUGHOUT your pregnancy rather than trying to turn baby that's already nestled in booty-first?
As you've probably guessed, there is. So without further ado, I present to you a short list of things you can do (from the minute you find out you're pregnant!) to encourage baby to achieve an optimal birth position.
GET ADJUSTED! This may seem obvious coming from a chiropractor, but the whole reason why chiropractors can help babies to turn is because freeing up motion in the pelvis and ligaments associated with the uterus gives baby more freedom of movement as well. The heaviest part of baby is their head, so gravity dictates that the head is likely to be down. But if the pelvis isn't moving well, baby might not enjoy having their head down there!
Stay hydrated! Mom's fluid intake is the easiest and fastest way to alter amniotic fluid levels. Increasing fluid allows more buoyancy for baby, giving them a better opportunity to invert. If you’re active, this is especially important.
Sit and stand up straight! The increasing thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis that occurs during pregnancy tends to lead to some moms slouching and swaying their way through the prenatal period. This is neither comfortable nor functional. Return to #1 for some obvious help with improving your posture. But for starters, stop sitting on your tailbone. If you had a tail, you'd sit with it behind you rather than tucked under your butt. Instead, center your weight on your "butt bones" (your ischial tuberosities) and your pubic symphysis. Now grow your spine up nice and tall and fill your abdomen (not your chest) with a deep breath. Roll one shoulder back at a time and relax your shoulders as you take in another nice deep belly breath. Remain here for 20-40 minutes MAXIMUM, and then move around for a minute before sitting back down (or stay standing). The improved posture and lack of stagnant sitting will be great for both you and baby.
Get up! In addition to the countless benefits of exercise itself (for both mom and baby), not being stagnant will encourage better movement of your pelvis and spine. A better moving pelvis and spine allows for baby to achieve an optimal position (once again, see #1).
These steps won't guarantee you a head-down baby, but they're all easy to do and can benefit you during pregnancy regardless. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be seen by a chiropractor during pregnancy, but don't forget the simple steps like hydration, posture, and movement!
Lindsay Mumma, DC,
BIRTHFIT Regional Director and the owner of BIRTHFIT North Carolina and Triangle Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center in Raleigh, NC. Check her out here: www.birthfitnc.com!
Our Other Blogs on Breech Babies: