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Monday, October 20, 2014

Turning a Breech Baby

A couple weeks ago, when I was 36 weeks pregnant, I had a doctor's appointment and found out my baby was still in a transverse position--breech, to be exact. This is my fourth baby and I've never had a problem with positioning before, so I was discouraged. I was informed that my two options were to schedule a c-section or to set up an appointment at the hospital for an ECV--an external cephalic version. That decision was a no-brainer for me, as I want to avoid a c-section if at all possible. But later at home, as I read over the educational literature about ECVs, that wasn't something I felt totally comfortable with either. Although I know ECVs have been done for decades (and, in fact, my mom had it done during two labors), it seemed like such a harsh procedure and, even more disheartening, its average success rate is only 58%. I hesitated to put the baby and I through that to not even have it work, although I was willing to try it if that was my only way to avoid a c-section.

One friend sent me this link to a YouTube video of a lady who teaches a few different positions and exercises to use (and some to avoid) to help the baby turn. She has successfully turned all of her own babies and what she said made sense. I tried everything, though, and most of them made me either very sore by the end of the day, or very uncomfortable while I was doing them. I was willing to keep at it if it would help, but then I found out another option.

When a few friends recommended a local chiropractor, urging me to go see him because they knew how successful he was in turning breech babies, I agreed to give him a call. I set up an appointment and read up on the Webster Technique. Suddenly I was excited with the possibilities. I have a case of slight scoliosis and have seen a couple different chiropractors over the years for headaches, neck, and back pain. I knew that stress settles in my neck and shoulders, that pregnancy takes a toll on my back, that the strain of our recent move couldn't have helped the situation, and that it had been about a year and a half since I last saw a chiropractor. In other words, it was probably about time. And this particular chiropractor specializes in infants and pregnant women; definitely a plus.

As I learned more about the technique and thought about what chiropractic adjustments do and how they help, it made perfect sense. A lot more sense to me, in fact, than forcing the baby into the correct position when something is not right.  I understood why, if my pelvis was not aligned correctly, the baby would have a hard time rotating correctly. And, as it turns out, that was exactly the case. The chiropractor found out that the left side of my pelvis was not lined up with the right side at all, and a ligament on the left side was extremely tight. He helped that to loosen up and then adjusted me all the way from my neck, down my spine, to my pelvis. I certainly felt straighter after that! And I was encouraged to learn that my chiropractor's success rate is 95% for breech babies turning after the technique is done. That's a whole lot better than 58%! Plus, the chiropractor told me that many women experience faster, easier labors as a result of everything being aligned correctly. That makes sense too. I hope I'll be included among that statistic!

I was quite sore and achy the rest of the day, as expected, but felt good the next day, and within a couple days started wondering if the baby had rotated because I couldn't feel her head on the right side anymore. The next week at my doctor's appointment, my midwife (CNM) confirmed my suspicions: the baby had turned! I was so happy and relieved to know she is now head-down. Now I just have to see the chiropractor once a week until I deliver, so he can check to make sure I'm still aligned and to make any minor adjustments. This (the second) week I looked pretty good, so I don't anticipate any more major adjustments. And now that the baby's head is pressing where it should be, maybe my body will actually ready itself for delivery soon. Here's hoping!

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