Make Like A Baby & Head Out!
Margie Wallis, LM, CPM
By about the 35th week of pregnancy (often earlier), babies are usually head-down. Pretty much everyone agrees that ideally a baby should be head down for the birth. The head is uniquely designed with bones that can shift and even overlap so a smaller, flexible diameter applies itself to the mobile opening in the neck of the uterus (the cervix). BUTT (excuse the pun), what about those that are leading the way with a different part. . . maybe feet or little round tushies?
There are dozens (or more!) websites with descriptions of techniques women can use to flip a baby to a head-down position. Top choice is usually physical positioning for Mom. On the theory that “heavy things drop”, and “baby's head is usually larger and heavier than his or her derriere”, mothers are encouraged to use a combination of exercises where mom lays upside down on an incline board at the gym, does handstands in the pool, or crawls down the stairs. One of my favorite sites is SpinningBabies.com. Gail Tulley encourages fetal positioning for an easier birth.
I definitely agree that the mother's ligaments and aligned pelvis are important. Exercise, excellent body mechanics, prenatal yoga, and regular chiropractic care are a great idea. I could also write a whole article on interesting and creative ways to get a baby to turn using aromatherapy, acupuncture, ice packs, flashlights, homeopathics, massage . . . and the list goes on. One midwife I know asks her clients to avoid jeans or low-rise pants that rest under the belly because the tight band restricts the rotation of the baby and she believes it can cause a breech. But, I think breech is more than a physical presentation – I think it's an emotional presentation.
One of my deeply held beliefs is that BIRTH WORKS! It's such a perfect design. So, when a baby chooses a different position, I wonder if there's more at play than just gravity. I believe strongly that while pregnancy appears to be physical, a large part of preparing for parenthood is emotional and spiritual. Maybe the causes of the breech presentation (and therefore the possible strategies to turn it) are similarly not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual in nature.
One of the richest experiences of personal growth is learning to listen to the quiet, inner voice of wisdom. Every expectant mother has the unique opportunity to learn new dimensions of prayer. More than simple prayers for specific outcomes (turn the baby), pregnancy is an opportunity to pray introspectively about any fears, unresolved conflicts, and unfinished history that needs to be healed before moving into the new season of parenthood. I have a very basic process that I encourage mothers carrying breech babies to use as a starting place for their own introspection.
I suggest they start with a journal, and write freeform answers to these questions:
· What do I need (material or intangible) in order to have a safe, healthy, satisfying birth?
· Is there anything I need to resolve before I am free to move into the new role of motherhood?
· If I'm being totally honest in the privacy of my heart, is there any reason I am holding onto the baby or holding back from birth?
Trust your instinct. On some level, you'll know if the baby's position is a reflection of something going on in you physically . . . you'll also know if it's something emotional. If you can't tell, try a little bit of everything! See an acupuncturist. Go to a chiropractor. Take some time for introspection and meditation. It's all part of a great journey . . . getting your baby earth side.