Pregnancy

39 weeks! Turning my breech baby

39 weeks and looking forward to a caffeinated coffee! Or maybe a nice cold glass of bubbles... 

39 weeks and looking forward to a caffeinated coffee! Or maybe a nice cold glass of bubbles... 

Well, here we are, 39 weeks pregnant - and down to the final few days (hopefully!). Apart from driving my husband crazy with nesting and various baby-related chores, I am feeling well and enjoying the calm before the inevitable storm.

The last 4 weeks have been interesting. If you have been following along with my birth journey, I have had a breech bubs since 29 weeks. I had such an amazing, powerful birth with Master N using CalmBirth techniques to assist with the contractions (aka. ‘surges’) and associated pain (aka. ‘pressure’), I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that it was looking like a caesarean section for me this time around. To be honest, I kept yo-yo-ing between “just accept it and start preparing for a positive cesarean experience” and “no, I am going to do everything I can do to help flip this baby and look into a breech delivery”. It was quite a tumultuous time for me mentally as I couldn’t seem to choose a path to stick to. So I ended up doing a bit of both - preparing for a caesarean whilst still doing everything I could do despite the low chances of it turning.

At my 35 week scan, I was told the baby was frank breech (bum down, head under my ribs and feet in front of the face), with a less than 5% chance it would turn. Bummer. But still, I persisted with all my weird and wonderful techniques to help flip baby. At my 37 week scan, I was 100% convinced it was still breech with a large hard mound stuck underneath my ribs and very limited movement. But to my honest amazement, it turns out that was a boney bum I could feel and its head was DOWN! I could not believe it - I was ecstatic and so very fortunate. 

Now, I am not sure if bubs was always going to turn or if it was something I was doing to help give it the space it needed. But I thought I would put together the things I was doing consistently that maybe did or didn’t have an impact. At the very least, it felt like I was trying everything I could and the rest was out of my control.

 

Chiropractic Manoeuvres (Webster Technique)

For me, I think this one made the most difference. I went to see Bianca at Body in Balance as she was one of the few Chiropractors trained in the specific pregnancy manoeuvre called the Webster Technique (read more about it here). The Webster technique is a chiropractic manoeuvre to help align the pelvis and whilst they say it is not designed to turn a breech baby, it can be a nice side-effect. 

On my initial consultation (35weeks +2 days), Bianca ran a series of tests and we discovered my pelvis was out on one side by a whopping 471%. She explained if the pelvis was out that much then my uterus could have a kink in it, something that baby just couldn’t seem to get past. Makes total sense. As soon as she adjusted me, bubs started wriggling around straight away and continued for the next hour - I had never felt baby wriggle that much. She obviously freed up some room in there! I have been seeing her 1-2 times a week since then to ensure the pelvis hasn’t reverted back out of alignment. I can't reccommend this highly enough.

 

Meditations, Self-hypnosis and deep Visualisations

This was another aspect I think helped me mentally. The mind-body connection is such a powerful tool. Biochemically, meditation and similar techniques set off a chain reaction of hormonal releases which help to relax the nervous system and the tension in the muscles. When I went to the chiropractor, she tested where my nervous system was sitting on a scale from sympathetic (stress response) to parasympathetic (relaxation response). Even though I was feeling quite relaxed on the outside, my nervous system was sitting in the sympathetic (stressed) zone. If your body is in the sympathetic state, it is starting to prepare to fight or flight, therefore muscles are tense and ready for action. Not the ideal conditions for bubs to grow, turn and flourish. So I realised I needed to work on getting my body and mind into equilibrium.

I changed my morning meditations from CalmBirth meditations to 2 guided meditations in particular:

Both are a little steep on price (approx AUD$17 each) but I was up for trying anything! Both of these meditations focus on relaxing and releasing through the muscles supporting the uterus and also letting go of fears relating to the birth. I found these, coupled with intense visualisation of baby turning really helped. Occasionally I listened to them as I was falling asleep at night and then had crazy visualisations all night about baby turning!

 

Talking to bubs

This is one my senior prenatal yoga teacher Rachael Foster from Luminosity Healing recommended. Just having a good old chat to baby and ask them to turn around. I also roped Master N to chatting (or yelling) to bubs daily telling it to turn around.

 

Prenatal Yoga of course!

As well as my morning yoga practice that I shared in my previous post, I was also going to prenatal yoga classes. It is always a wise idea when pregnant but particularly when facing any pregnancy issues (pelvis discomfort, odd baby positioning, blood pressure, fertility issues). The classes can easily be modified to accommodate various stages of pregnancy as well as many variations to ensure you are practising safely whilst pregnant. So I was modifying my practice to ensure I was only attempting poses that were useful to turning baby rather than poses that would help to engage baby low down in the pelvis. I worked very closely with Rachel to come into many weird and wonderful positions to release the abdominal and hip ligaments, create space and use gravity to our advantage (hence lots of inversions upside down!). Rachael mentioned to me in class once, the power of a group of prenatal women together can be very strong so always a good idea to pop along. 

 

Many techniques from the Spinning Babies website

This is a great resource with copious amounts of information on turning babies. I recommend reading through it around the 32-week mark so you can start doing the daily / weekly activities to help position baby. In particular, I did a lot of the daily activities, forward-leaning inversions and the breech tilt - sometimes with a bag of frozen peas placed low down in my pelvis to encourage bubs to move upwards towards my ribs. I had some interesting experiences trying to lie down on an angled ironing board on my own when hubby was away!

 

Moxibustion - Traditional Chinese Medicine designed to help turn breech babies

Moxibustion - Traditional Chinese Medicine designed to help turn breech babies

Acupuncture and Moxibustion

And lastly, the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach - Acupuncture and Moxibustion. We all know what acupuncture involves (needles placed along meridian lines in the body to help stimulate the Qi or energy in particular areas). Moxibustion involves burning sticks of Mugwort underneath your little toe for 20 minutes twice daily to help the Qi to rise up to the uterus and create light heat that hopefully gets baby moving. I was using very smokey sticks of mugwort which resulted in many strange looks when I was doing this in the middle of a campground whilst on holiday! But at least it kept the mozzies away….

 

So what now?

 

Now I have gone back to preparations for CalmBirth. I listen to CalmBirth meditations every morning which helps my mindset and belief - surrender to the process and truly believe that my body is perfectly designed to birth this baby. I practice my relaxed breathing (trying to take 5-6 breaths per minute) to help keep my nervous system calm when it is under stress during labour (and also helps with my 3 year old toddler tantrums haha!). I am still working on the relaxing visualisations and gathering tools I can use during labour to create this calm environment. And of course, prenatal yoga, trying to get deep into the hips to help engage this baby’s head!

So wish me luck and I will see you on the flip side.

32 Weeks! My morning Yoga practice to encourage optimal birth position

OK second video attempt and slightly more natural this time! This is my practice at 32 weeks pregnant - a little flow I am doing most mornings to (try to!) encourage bubs to be in an optimal position for birth. At the moment, bubs is breech, so I am trying to lengthen through the muscles of my hips, pelvis and abdomen to give bubs some extra space and encourage movement. I am also practising a few gentle inversions making use of gravity to help bub flip into the head down position (only attempt these if you are an experienced yogi. If new to yoga, please seek assistance from your prenatal yoga teacher).

Yoga Australia Photo Shoot

I was very fortunate enough to be asked on a photo shoot for Yoga Australia. Truly honoured to have these precious photos when I was 28 weeks pregnant.

Backbending Series: Pregnancy friendly backbends

backbends_Series-week3.png

When pregnant, strong backbends are contraindicated. As the pregnancy progresses, the lordotic curve (inwards curve) of the lumbar spine becomes exaggerated due to the increased weight of bubs in the belly. If we then add a backbend to this already compressed lumbar spine, we could run the risk of spinal injury, vertebrae or disc damage. 

Additionally, it is also integral to engage the core in all of our backbends to ensure proper pelvic and lumbar spine alignment. However, when pregnant, we are trying to avoid compressing the abdominal region where the baby is growing so it would be unsafe to attempt any strong backbends.

However, there are a few lovely backbends that are safe during pregnancy and ones which I tend to modify with. I have demonstrated these below:

 
IMG_4476.JPG

Bitilasana (Cow Pose) 

This is a great option for any prone asana (lying on the tummy) such as Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Urdvha Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) or Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) etc. Here we try to open through the chest by bringing the gaze upwards and opening the chest forwards between the upper arms. Usually, we would dip the spine toward the mat, however, this could cause hyperextension in the lumbar spine region so it is safest to try to maintain a flat lumbar spine and neutral pelvis here. It's also a good idea to try to relax through the rectus abdominus (our ‘six-pack’ muscles in the front of the abdomen) and try to focus on gentle engagement of the side abdominals (transverse abdominis and obliques) instead.

 
IMG_4434.JPG

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) Variation

Here we still get the benefit of opening through the chest and front upper body but without compromising the lumbar spine and over engaging the rectus abdominis. If you feel comfortable the head can be released backwards for the cervical spine extension opening through the neck and massaging endocrine glands located in the neck.

 
IMG_4475.JPG

Salambar Supta Baddha Konasana (Supported Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Here, there is a gentle yet supported and restorative backbend with the added bonus of a hip opener. Hip openers are a great way to prepare the body and pelvis for labour and birth. This pose also opens through the chest and front of the shoulders which helps to counteract the common hunching posture we gain when working at a desk, driving, lifting kids etc. This chest opening and posture is also very important postnatally when there may be a lot of upper body endurance needed when picking up bub, breastfeeding, hunching to change nappies etc.

 
IMG_4477.JPG

Salambar Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose)

This is a little stronger on the lumbar spine and could be uncomfortable late in pregnancy due to the reclined position (2 bolsters in a T-shape would be more appropriate for the 3rd trimester) but is a lovely alternative to a regular Fish Pose. Here we are safely extending the spine with that added support of the bolster. Be careful when coming out of this pose, ensuring we roll to one side and then use the arms to support the body to sit up, rather than using the abdominals to sit up immediately from lying down - a good one to remember when getting out of bed in the morning as well!

 

So if you are pregnant but still want to explore that extension in the spine and some of the benefits of backbends, give these alternatives a whirl!