Throughout most of pregnancy, a fetus treats your womb almost like a floating jungle gym. Flipping and turning every which way is normal behavior. By about the 30-week mark, though, 75% of babies turn head down, and many of the remaining 25% will join them by around 34 weeks.
If you’ve got a stubborn breech baby, you may be interested in any options you can try to convince your little one to flip. Enter Spinning Babies.
What Is Spinning Babies?
If you imagined someone spinning a newborn overhead like a chef making pizza dough, you’re not alone! Fortunately, that’s not what the popular website recommends. “Spinning” your baby happens in utero, and it’s about encouraging your little one into an optimal position for birth.
You may have heard of manual intervention by doctors (i.e., an external cephalic version, where your OBGYN uses her hands to push baby into place). Other sources advocate a “give it time” approach (including during active labor). Spinning Babies recommends maternal body work, such as exercises to balance the pelvis, as the best way for mom and baby’s bodies to work together for best positioning.
Why Is Position Important?
The most obvious case of how positioning affects labor and birth is breech or transverse vs. head-down position. Head-down babies have the best chance at being born vaginally. Some providers hesitate even to attempt vaginal delivery for a breech baby, so if avoiding C-section is a goal for you, this position plays a major role.
Your doctor can confirm baby’s position at prenatal visits. Want an easy check-in to do at home? Pay attention to hiccups. A head and butt may feel similar to you, but those rhythmic little hiccup blips coming from well below your navel are a clear giveaway that baby’s head is down.
Even with a head-down baby, finding the right orientation matters. A posterior baby (where baby faces out, back of the head closer to your spine than front) is more likely to lead to longer, more difficult labor. The baby’s chin is less likely to be tucked, meaning a larger surface area of head needs to pass through your cervix first. This can increase chances of medical interventions like epidural or C-section. Feeling finger wiggles low in front is a good sign of posterior position.
How Do I Turn My Baby?
Your best course of action is to talk to your doctor, doula, or another professional birth worker familiar with your case.
For breech babies: Some forward inversions (e.g., positions similar to Downward Dog pose in yoga) can use gravity to draw baby higher into your uterus, giving room to turn. Spinning Babies’ Side-lying Release is meant to temporarily soften your pelvis, which also gives baby an easier environment to change position. Get an expert to help you, since the techniques can require some precision to do correctly.
For posterior babies: Posture is key. Leaning back into the sofa and slouching can encourage posterior position. Sit up straight, pelvis tilted forward and knees below hip level. Hands and knees positioning can help baby rotate, so try some old-fashioned floor scrubbing or Child’s pose from yoga. Keep your belly warm, too. Your little one may find it cozier to warm their back with your core temperature if it’s chillier at the front.
Ultimately, babies choose the position that’s best for them to grow and thrive in utero. You can influence your baby’s position with exercises like those on Spinning Babies, but you also should know that it’s not a failure on your part if the baby won’t turn. With luck and good prenatal care, the hope is that your body can work with your baby’s for the easiest birth experience possible for both of you.