36 Weeks and Breech

Updated on July 12, 2011
J.R. asks from Portland, OR
21 answers

I have really been hoping to have a natural childbirth VBAC with this pregnancy. I just found out today that my baby-to-be is breech. I have an external version scheduled for Friday with a naturopathic doctor who uses ultrasound and fetal monitoring during the procedure. I understand there is a small risk of uterine tear because I've had a C-Section previously. On the other hand, the version should be easier because I've had a baby before. I'm really not against hospitals or physicians, I just had a really bad hospital experience the first time around and wanted to do something different this time.

Have any of you mamas been in a similar situation? Did the version hurt a lot? Was it successful? I'm seeing success rates vary from 40-80%. How did it compare to labor? I'm not afraid of pain and am prepared for an unmedicated birth. Heck- I went through 6 hours of intense back labor with my first babe. I just want an idea of what I'm in for.

Finally, did any of you have success with alternative ways of spinning your babe? I've been reading spinningbabies.org and wonder if it works. Other friends have been suggesting acupuncture. I've never tried acupuncture before, it sounds a little too much like hocus pocus.

Thanks for your time and support

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answers from Hartford on

You're ONLY 36 weeks. You have plenty of time for your baby to turn on its own without having to intervene. Many babies turn at the 38 mark, and some turn when you go into labor and even during labor. My best friend had an external inversion done with her first baby at 36 weeks and it worked, but he turned himself right back the next day. For all the good it did her, her entire belly was bruised and sore because of the inversion. He ended up naturally turning head down and engaging when she hit 40 weeks.

I really would avoid doing an inversion this early. I would wait and see if the baby does it on its own because there's plenty of time. There are also more natural ways of coaxing the baby such as "baby spinning" and shining a bright light down near your pelvis. You can also get down on your hands and knees and put your chin to the ground with your fanny raised high in the air. Do that for as long as you can stand it a couple of times a day until the baby turns.

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answers from Dallas on

I never had to do this, so I can't give you personal experience from an external rotation. I have been in the room with patients and the experience varied greatly among them. Some the rotation was smooth, fast and painless and others it took much longer and was more difficult.

We did have a dear friend that had success with accupuncture and spending hours over a few days on all fours rocking back and fourth and side to side to move the baby with gravity. It can't hurt. Good luck, Momma!

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answers from San Diego on

My first was breech, and I had an external version that worked to turn the baby. It was very painful. I had my second baby via natural VBAC, and I would say that the version was a more traumatic experience than that labor. However, that could have been for a number of reasons, mainly because the version happened with my first and I had no idea what to expect. And in the end, I had to have a c-section with my first because the cord was wrapped around his neck. I'll admit that I often wonder if that happened as a result of the version.

Prior to the version, I tried moxibustion and didn't really see any results. Who knows, though, maybe that "loosened" him up and that's why the version worked.

I had a friend who used acupuncture to turn her baby. It totally worked for her, and she had her baby vaginally. I really don't think it's hocus pocus - it's based on centuries of practice. I feel that it couldn't hurt at this point. The worst case scenario is that you end up with the version or c-section anyway; the best case scenario is that you avoid it all.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

My daughter was breech up until the week before her due date. The Dr had me layiing upside down 3 times a day for a few weeks but she didnt turn. But when I went for my weekly check, the nurse felt the baby, and checked size and said she was still breech. I knew she was because I could feel her head up in my throat almost. The nurse left the room to go inform the Dr and I knew we were going to talk about c-section in the next few days. But while I waited, the baby started kicking and flopping and squiming and almost knocked me off the exam table. By the time the Dr came in, she was head down, and fine! She was born a week later, on her due date. No problem. (o:

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answers from Portland on

Hi J.,

I am a local doula, and I can tell you that generally by 37 weeks, baby will turn thenselves into the vertex (head down) position. I have had a lot of success turning babies. Spinning Babies is a great site to get ideas from. If you still find that you are unsuccessful on Friday, and you are 37 weeks, and the baby is either still breech, or has flipped back, you may write me directly and I would be happy to offer more suggestions.

I agree with a previous poster that acupuncture is an ancient form of effective restoration of health to the body. I, however, generally recommend acupuncture for encouraging labor. I do understand that there are different meridians in which the acupuncture points are used for various outcomes.

Best of luck with your VBAC!

Kind regards,
T. Nelson

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answers from Kansas City on

I was in that exact position! I tried to do external spinning on my own and it didn't work...well, it sort of did, but not really...I was pregnant with my first and we were taking a birthing class. The instructor was a midwife and she gave me some really good tips on how to do it. So, I stocked up on some good massage oil and stood on my head for a good portion of my day! I got my baby to flip but as soon as I righted myself she would flip back again very quickly. I was scheduled for a version and after about a 20 minute ultrasound, which incidentally is way fun cuz you get to just sort of hang out and watch your baby, the perinatologist came in said the cord was wrapped around her neck, that was that, and I was scheduled for a c-section 3 weeks later.

I wasn't against the version although afterwards I heard tons of horror stories. I also do believe in acupuncture, but I'm not sure it would work for this. There is probably a reason your baby is breech and it may not be possible for it to turn. After my experience, I would honestly tell you to go in and at least consider the version, but listen to the doctors and your baby and just go with the flow. Even if the version is initially successful, it might not remain to be. I know you were hoping for a v-bac, but honestly a c-section the second time around is easier from which to recover, at least you know what you're getting into! Hang in there!

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answers from Portland on

both of my kids were breech at about the same point you are and we had success with moxa sticks. it seems weird, but it either worked, of the babies moved on their own. good luck.

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answers from Tampa on

I'm currently seeing a Midwife, and am just shy of 37 weeks for my VBAC at home... I too was VERY worried about baby being breech. My Midwives recommend acupuncture, certain positions and a chiropractor BEFORE getting an external version.

Acupuncture is widely applauded and helps many people - animals too. I'd look more into those alternatives before going in for your version...

I wish you all the luck for your baby to turn! I too, had a traumatic hospital birth prior to this pregnancy and will do all in my power to have a home birth. I've spent the last 5 years researching alternative birthing models from around the world - Midwives are the most widely used in every other country - except this one.

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answers from Cheyenne on

I too was breach with @ 36 weeks with my VBAC baby...so I feel your pain! My doctor however would not attempt the version until I was almost 38 weeks (because if it failed, she was just going to do a C-section right then...I have a tendency to have low fluid-thankfully this baby I had plenty of fluid which is why he was "swimming") so I had 2 weeks to flip him myself.

I tried acupressure (I can't remember where I was supposed to push on my leg because my doula did it for me), sitting upside-down (watch this because I became VERY dizzy so only do for as long as comfortable), bag of frozen veggies on top of belly and heating pad at bottom (baby should move from cold to heat), flashlight "drawn" from top of belly to bottom, having husband talk "down there"...

Only things I didn't try was diving into a swimming pool/somersaults in pool and acupuncture...

The night before I was supposed to have a final ultrasound and schedule my version, my husband told the baby "turn around" and "spanked" his bottom and guess what?!?...the next day's ultrasound showed him bottoms up! My OB didn't trust him though so I had several ultrasounds before he came...but I had a beautiful VBAC (with an epidural unfortunately...maybe next time...) and now he is almost 2!

So don't give up and try, try, try all you can...don't be afraid to ask for more time before the version (prob try not to go beyond 38 weeks or room gets too small-but sometimes you have to stand up for yourself...) and I am sending lots of upside down thoughts to your baby! Good luck hon!

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answers from Seattle on

J. - Sorry, I didn't take the time to read your previous responses, so I'll just keep mine to my own experience. (I've had 4 babies, two 8lb-ers, two 9lb-ers). My 2nd was engaged, ready and waiting at my 37 week appointment. On my 36 week appointment she had turned breech, which shocked me because I thought I would have noticed a full body flip! (She was one on my 9 pounders.) My midwife told me a number of things to try, all of which I did: Play music on at the pubic bone, shine a flashlight at the bladder area, sit only on the floor Taylor-fashion, and if you have to sit on a chair, then only backward. The baby's head is the heaviest part of its body, so it naturally wants to go down.
Edit - Also, I did the cat/cow yoga pose on your hands and knees with curling your back up and then going neutral again - that not only feels great but gravity pulls baby's head down. Also I've seen a chiropractor all through my adult years, pregnant or not, and would recommend a good family chiropractor with maternity experience to every pregnant woman. So much relief!
Once again, I don't know how I didn't notice, but by 37 weeks she was back the way she belonged, and stayed that way.
I don't want to scare you, but my sister in law had the version, which she said hurt like a mother, but baby flipped back to breech anyway, and then flipped into position 3 days before delivery. One of my best friends had her baby flip during labor. My personal feeling would be to avoid the version if possible. But blessings on whatever your decision is.

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answers from San Diego on

I used http://spinningbabies.com/ when my daughter thought sideways was her favorite way to lie. She did turn and stay and I went on to deliver unmedicated in the birth center as we planned. She kept flipping around, mostly going sideways but also breech. She would go head down but filp a day later.
I would try the things on the website and see if they help.
Best of luck!

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answers from Anchorage on

I had this exact situation - I did NOT want to do an external version, after I read up on it I knew it could be risky to the baby. My midwife told me one last thing she had heard that worked before - I tried it, and IT WORKED !!! I could not believe it as it sounded so kooky. I would suggest you do this as well. Get yourself to a pool, have someone to assist you while you do handstands in the pool over and over again. Do this as long as you can take it - maybe 30 minutes. The baby will become confused and thing down is up and vice versa. They will turn themselves. You will need someone to hold your legs up for a second while your hands are on the bottom of the pool. Make sure you are in about neck deep water. When I went back to the midwife, she said the baby reversed - and I went on later to have a natural birth at home as I wanted.

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answers from Seattle on

First I will start with make sure they check to see how much water is around baby. That will be a major indicator if the baby will have the chance to turn. If there isn't enough water the baby won't have the room to move. I am surprised personally that they are doing it this late in the game with you. I work in the family maternity center where I live and none of the docs or midwifes will send their patients in for it past 34 latest 35 weeks because the success rate plummets due to lack of water around baby. Also are they going to be giving you meds to relax your uterus? If not, that will also make this very very very painful and probably not work out. I can't remember the actually name for the drug that we administer to our patients that come in for this but it helps relax the uterus enough to let the doc manually manipulate the baby enough for it to flip. If it's going to work it will probably work within the first 5 minutes. After that your body tenses up due to pain and baby is probably just in a weird position. Please also remember some babies aren't suppose to turn. They could have the cord wrapped around the neck or feet or abdomen keeping them from turning.
My daughter was breech, we tried everything to get her to turn and she wouldn't budge. We did the external version and it hurt. It isn't something I wouldn't do again if I needed to though. There is no pain I can compare it to, I guess just imagine someone punching you in the tummy or taking there fist and shoving it into your tummy. Another reason my hurt so bad was because she was facing outwards also. The doctor had nothing to grab a hold of per say, due to her butt and back of head were towards my spine. She was so high up my doc stated that my ribs would have to crack to her her past them. I was more upset that after the procedure I had stretch marks!!!
I really hope this works for you!

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answers from Seattle on

I had an external version at 36 weeks and a couple of days. It was uncomfortable but not painful (just a lot of pressure on my bladder that was uncomfortable). make sure your doctor is experienced, mine was (referred by my midwife) and had a great success rate.
Version was successful and my daughter was born without complications in a midwife-assisted, natural (aka drug free) birth the week after the version. I had a great experience and would do it this way again any day.
Good luck!



answers from Anchorage on

My oldest daughter (1st pregnancy) decided to breech herself @ week 38 or so. I knew she did something crazy because it HURT when she flipped herself. I had a version @ the hospital just a few days before my due date. I was terrified of having a C-section and wanted to try anything to avoid it. I was put on bed rest for a few days, and told to drink an insane amount of water, or gatorade. They said that doing this would increase the amniotic fluid so the move would be easier. (It did increase it quite a bit!)

I went in to Labor & Delivery and they did it in a triage room with the fetal monitor and ultrasound. The hardest part for me was having an appointment for this around two, and not being able to eat after midnight the night before. When I was pregnant, I had to eat right away or I felt sick. I would say the nausea from not eating was worse than the version! They monitored the baby for a while, and then got started. I was given an IV with some type of medication that "relaxed" soft muscle tissue. They inverted the bed a bit, and got to work. They stopped a few times to monitor her, and make sure she was OK with the change. I would say from start to finish it was very quick. I am happy I did it, since I had such a good outcome. Pain wise, it was more pressure on my stomach... The IV getting put in was worse than the version itself.

Good luck!!!



answers from New York on

My son was full breech and I opted againt the version since it was my first pregnancy and the chances of sucess were not great. Plus, I completely underestimated how tough the c-section recovery would be. If I has a child already, I would want to do the version. My friend had it done and she said it was fine, lots of pressure but it worked and she gave birth naturally to a healthy baby girl. I did try some of the techniques to get my son to turn but he stayed put. I did not try acupuncture or moxibustion but the acupuncture in particular is worth a try.


answers from Oklahoma City on

I had it done with my 2nd and it was very fast and uncomfortable but not painful. They gave me something to relax my uterus, checked the baby with the monitor and ultrasound then twisted around on my belly for less than a minute and she was flipped! They checked with the ultrasound again to make sure then monitored her for about an hour or so then we went home! She stayed head down and was born on her due date a couple weeks later!
Good Luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi J., I had a version with my first daughter. I was 36 weeks too and my hospital wanted a c-section and I was against it. I fought hard and found a doctor willing to do the version. I was scared, mainly for my baby. It did hurt but I knew I would totally suck it up against any surgery. It did work, my baby was delivered naturally 5 LONG weeks later. I do want to say though that I'm not sure if the version did something to me, I went into labor on a Wed and she was born Sat night, I was under so much meds at the end. The labor was the worst pain and struggle, I never wish anyone to hurt so much.
If you were to ask me again, I would have to say do the version but if labor starts getting too long then have doctor get baby out...
Good luck, I remember trying to make the decision of yes or no and it is not easy. I send you a hug.



answers from Seattle on

I was in your situation but without a prior c-section. I didn't want to do the version, didn't feel right about it and heard bad stories from two people I know personally. I tried Webster technique which I've seen work for many people, and acupuncture with moxa. Tried the flashlight low on the belly, talking to the belly down low, and lying almost upside down. Nothing worked for me, she turned out to be too big and my placenta was in a place that wouldn't have let her turn.

But it's all worth a try, and I knew I would rather have a planned c-section than an emergency of any kind. You can look up chiropractors that do the Webster technique online, just google Oregon Webster technique!



answers from Seattle on

My son (first child and ultimately 10 lbs 6 oz so no small thing), was breach just before birth. It was also a possible placenta prevea, so there was concern about a cesarean birth. But just before birth when I was sleeping somewhat (?) soundly for possible the last time, he flipped on his own and I lifted off the mattress about two inches. Of course he woke me up. It did not hurt exactly but it was unforgettable because I remember the sensation 33 years latter. Mostly like your already stretched abdominal skin stretches even more than you think it can.

Good luck.


answers from Jacksonville on

I had it done at about that same time (36 weeks?). It was our 2nd baby also. It WAS successful (went into natural labor at 39 weeks and had a drug free/intervention free delivery with zero complications and a wonderful healthy baby. That was 10 years ago. :)

Comparing the version procedure to labor... hmmm.. not much to compare really. Not even close. The version was a little uncomfortable but not really painful. Note even on the scale with labor. :)

Added: Actually, upon reflection, I was initially told she was breech at 36 weeks. We waited it out for about 10 days, during which time she did NOT turn on her own. So around 37 1/2 weeks we did the version. She was born about 10 more days after, at 39 weeks.

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