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Prenatal Pilates: 5 Exercises to help a breech baby turn

Updated: May 1, 2023

If you’ve been following my pregnancy journey on IG, you might have heard that I was really worried about baby’s position in my 2nd trimester. At the 20 weeks scan, baby was doing a “headstand” in the words of the sonographer when we did the detailed scan, which was great! But at week 24 when we returned for our regular gynae visit, we were told that baby had turned head up, and was in the breech position. While I didn’t think that it was too much of a concern, but my gynae began to pre-empt me about having to do a C-sec if baby was still in the breech position by the time I was due to deliver. All along I had planned to deliver naturally, and this threw me off quite a bit. At week 28, there was no change in baby’s position, and once again my gynae reiterated that we needed baby to turn to the right position soon before she got too big and didn’t have space to do so. I was starting to get really worried at that point, even though many people were reassuring me that it was still early and baby had time to turn. I started to get a little annoyed then, that my gynae kept repeating the need to go for a C-sec and even contemplated getting a second opinion from a doctor who could be more pro-natural.

I also prayed about it and realised then how birth is really something that I can’t control. I had attended an antenatal course with Blooming Births and I was all “prepared” for a natural birth, hopefully an unmedicated one. But with this new situation that I was in, I realised that if baby didn’t turn, all my plans would go down the drain. And at that point, it reminded me of how important it is to surrender the whole situation and birth to God. It reminded me that regardless what path our birthing takes, what’s most important is for baby to be delivered safely and healthily. And that’s really all that I pray for these days.

Anyway, after asking around and doing my own research, I found that there are exercises that can help to encourage breech babies to turn head down. I cannot guarantee that any of these will work, but I tried all of them myself and eventually at our week 32 checkup, our gynae informed us that baby had finally turned to the right position for birth! Thank God! :’) Sharing these exercises that I tried, and I do hope that they work for you. But most importantly, relax and let baby do his/her own thing. Statistically, most babies turn head down naturally without requiring any special intervention, so it could be just a timing thing. Nonetheless, if you’re like me and do feel like you need to do something about it, you can try out these 5 exercises!

1. Bridging

Exercises that are supposed to help babies turn head down in the womb typically fall into 2 categories – inversions, or creating space in the hips. Bridging is in the former category, where the purpose is to bring the hips higher than your shoulders, hoping to “tip” baby out of their current position in the pelvis to allow them to flip around.

Begin lying on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, around hip width apart. The spine should start off in neutral, where the tailbone & back of your lower ribs are in contact with the mat, with a small space under the lower back. From the neutral spine, curl from the pelvis to flatten your lower back onto the mat, and continue to tilt your hips in that same direction and lift your bottom off the mat. Peel your spine off the ground one bit at a time, from your bum, lower back, mid back and upper back – till you are balancing on the widest part of your shoulder blades. Take care to keep your tailbone tucked and reaching upwards such that it is a diagonal slope from your knees all the way to your shoulders. To lower back down, start from the upper back, and lay the spine down one segment at a time from the mid back, lower back and finally the tailbone to come back into your neutral spine.

If you feel that this is challenging as the belly starts to get heavier, another method is to lift your bottom up into the bridge and place a few cushions under you to keep the body up in this inverted position for 5mins or so. Do take note that if you start to feel dizzy or uncomfortable, come out of the position slowly and rest.

2. Resting Inversion

Resting Inversion

This is a pretty comfortable inversion that you can do pretty much most places in your home – on the floor (on a mat of course), on your sofa, or your bed. Have your knees directly under your hips as you come to a kneeling position and rest your head onto your hands. You can stay in this position again for 5-10mins, either still, or doing some hip rocks/circles to create movement in the hips at the same time. Again the purpose is to elevate the hips above your shoulders, to help baby slide out of the pelvis and turn around.

3. Cat/cows with Hip Circles

Cat/cows

From the resting inversion, simply push yourself up onto your hands into your all-fours position with hands under shoulders & knees under hips. Breathe in to lift the chest, gently arching the back into the cow stretch; and breathe out to round the shoulders and curl your tailbone into the cat stretch. Do this a few times, and you can also add in circles with the hips & shoulders, keeping the movement flowing smoothly, in any way that you like. This is a lovely exercise for getting some movement and space into the hips.

4. Inverted V

Inverted V

From your all-fours position, tuck your toes and push into your hands to lift your bottom up into the air into an inverted V position. This is probably one of the more tiring inversions (especially on the upper body) if you’re not used to it, so start with a shorter duration and gradually work up to a longer duration if you can. In this position, you can bend one knee at a time for a nice hamstring/calf stretch. Or if you’re quite seasoned in this position, you can lift one leg up into the air to create even more space in your hips.

5. Birthing Ball Hip Circles

Birthing ball hip circles

Finally, if you have a birthing ball, this is one of the best equipment that you can use during your pregnancy to create more space in your hips! Just sit on the ball and do hip circles in both directions while you’re sitting at your desk or watching TV. Time will fly past and you’ll have easily checked off one exercise! I try to sit on my birthing ball as much as possible these days, as opposed to a hard chair as it really allows the pelvis to remain flexible and movable for birth. I have an entire post dedicated to exercises that you can do with your birthing ball, do check it out!

Other than these exercises that I’ve shared, I also got many tips from fellow mamas on other things you can do to help baby turn. My favourite: talk to baby every day and tell her that she needs to turn. Hehe I find that so cute! But yes, babies can hear when you talk to them even while they’re in the womb, and really, there’s no harm trying ^^ For more tips to help baby turned, check out my IG highlights (“bébé”) where I shared what I’d heard from other mummies. Hope this post was helpful for you!

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