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:
- “Turn your breech baby” by Positive Birth.com - a 20 minute guided meditation
- “Breech Turn” by Hypnobirthing Australia - a 32 minute self hypnosis
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!
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.