Yoga is an effective, safe way to tone and open the body in preparation for birth, but did you know that yoga can also aid in the re-positioning of a breech baby? A breech baby is a baby who is not yet in birth position ("birth position" means that the baby is presenting head down, facing the mother's cervix.). There are a few different types of breech positions: baby's bottom facing mother's cervix (frank breech), baby's feet facing mother's cervix (footling breech), lying transverse, etc. When the baby is in birth position and his/her head is presenting down towards the mother's cervix, it allows for the head to exit first which creates enough opening so that the rest of the baby's body can follow.
Your health care professional or midwife will inform you if your baby is in breech position. Below, I have outlined a few poses and yoga practices which can help expecting mothers with breech babies at weeks 34-37 coax the baby into birth position. You will notice that some of these poses are inversions (upside-down/ heart above head shapes) which are normally avoided at a point after the third trimester, to prevent the baby from becoming breech if it has already taken birth positioning. However, if the baby is breech, gravity can be used in inversions to help bring the baby's head lower, into the mother’s pelvis. We want to use gravity to our advantage here.
Do not practice inversions if you have any known heart conditions or high blood pressure, as being upside down can place greater strain on the heart, especially when pregnant. A healthy heart should have no issue with inversions, but if you're still apprehensive, you can practice the inverted poses (marked with a *) in increments of 30 seconds, taking a 1-2 minute rest in between.
Remember: don't stress. Breathe. Trust yourself and trust your baby to find the proper position. If you have developed a mantra in your yoga or birth prep classes, this is a great time to put it into practice! If your baby is in breech position, it is more important than ever that you work to prevent stress and tension from creeping into your life and body. Do your part by practicing these poses (and any other yoga poses that help you to relax) with consistency. When you find a balanced, open body, the baby will be more likely to spontaneously turn into birth position.
PHOTO CREDIT: Yoga Outlet
1. Downward Facing Dog*
Perfect for those of you who already have a yoga practice. Practice this familiar pose with a spotter. If you worry about your heels slipping, place your feet against a wall. You are angling your uterus and bringing yourself into the position which you wish the baby to be in. Breathe here for as long as you feel comfortable, or do 3-5 sets of 30 second increments.
VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353
2. Supported Bridge Pose*
This pose can be practiced a couple of different ways. If you have access to yoga props such as blocks and bolsters, those are helpful. Otherwise, a stack of blankets or cushions will work. Alternatively, access to a wall will do. Position yourself in a bridge pose. You can even do a few rolling bridges to warm up the spine and pelvis. Bring a stack of two blocks or any amount of padding adding up to roughly a foot in height beneath your pelvis to support you.
If you have no props or padding, lie down with knees bent and your feet against a wall, so that your legs are a a right angle. Press your feet into the wall and slowly roll your spine off of the floor until your hips are in the air. Keep the weight in your feet, and hamstrings engaged. Breathe here for as long as you feel comfortable, or do 3-5 sets of 30 second increments.
PHOTO CREDIT: RESTORE353
3. Modified Cat/Cow Pose
Sometimes known as knee-chest pose, I simply think of this as another form of cat/cow pose. Come, as with a normal cat/cow, to your hands and knees, and then lower to your forearms so that your hips are the highest part of your body. Then, simply move intuitively through some cat/cow spines, cat/neutral spine, circle out your hips, whatever feels good here. You want to make space in your pelvis and abdomen, and feel good doing it.
Do these poses whenever you have a free moment in your day. The more times, the better!! Make it a habit!
Stay active. In addition to practicing these poses, Take at least one 20 minute walk per day to keep your body loose and active. Talk to your baby, and express what you want to happen. Relax, and breathe.