Week 38: Flipping Babies

By Published On: September 30th, 2014

There are many phrases you don’t want to hear at […]

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38 weeks pregnant! Smiling because the end is near…

There are many phrases you don’t want to hear at your 36-week appointment, like “you’re going to be pregnant for nine more months” or “your baby is actually half vampire.” For me, my OB walked into the room following my ultrasound and uttered four words I never wanted to hear: “Your baby’s upside down!”
She explained that having a breech baby at 36 weeks is not cause for alarm, but if the baby stays that way, it’s pretty much a guaranteed C-section. To be fair, I understand the thought process of my little girl in there. Would YOU want to be upside down for a month? However, since I’m hoping for an intervention-free birth, this was not good news. When she doctor said “If she doesn’t flip by next week’s appointment, we’ll go ahead and schedule your C-section for 39 weeks”, I began to panic.
My OB suggested that I try acupuncture, citing a high success rate in flipping breech babies. I was willing to do whatever it takes, so as soon as I left, I posted in my local moms group asking for recommendations of acupuncturists and was quickly given a name of a woman in my area that does acupuncture with moxibustion, the technique my doctor had referred to. I made an appointment, and she was able to get me in the next day. Yay! Like eating Indian food for the first time, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I went in with an open mind.
The acupuncturist placed four needles into pressure points on my arms and feet. If you’ve never done acupuncture, you are probably wondering, so the answer is no, it doesn’t hurt at all. After the needles were in, the acupuncturist lit this cigar-looking thing called a “moxa stick” and began performing the moxibustion. Basically she just held the stick up to an acupuncture point next to each of my pinky toes and alternated for about 15 minutes. That acupuncture point is intended to help the baby get into her optimal position, helping her flip. It was super relaxing, laying there listening to the Enya-like music while she did the moxibustion. When it was over, the baby got super active and started running laps around my uterus, but I didn’t feel her flip right away.
The acupuncturist gave me a moxa stick to use at home and scheduled me for another appointment over the weekend. I had one more appointment the following week. I was convinced that the baby wasn’t going to flip. During that time, I went through the four stages of finding out your baby is breech:
1. Defeat. Nothing ever works out how it’s supposed to for me. Why would this be any different? I’m going to have a C-section with a horrible recovery. I need to hire live-in help or move to a house with no stairs, or I’ll never survive. (Hormones played a major role in this stage.)
2. Questioning. Okay, so what if I do get a C-section? I did a little research about the procedure and read birth stories from cesarean mamas. I found out what type of stitching I would need to request to be a candidate for a future VBAC. But I still didn’t want to think about it as a possibility.
3. Almost-acceptance. Ultimately, whatever happens, happens. I understand that the baby will do what she needs to do. If she doesn’t flip, there’s a reason, like a short umbilical cord or a problem with her access to the placenta.
4. Acceptance. I’ve done everything I can to encourage her to flip: I went to acupuncture twice, used the moxa stick at home every night and did every exercise on SpinningBabies.com. If this didn’t work, hey, at least I get an extra two weeks’ pay if I end up with a C-section.

My husband diligently using the moxa stick on acupuncture points in my toes. Flip, baby, flip!

As fate would have it, I went in a week and a half later to my appointment and found out that my baby is now head down! The good news is that I didn’t have to schedule a C-section, and they think she will stay in this position. It’s been a total whirlwind with many emotional ups-and-downs, but I’m so relieved that she has flipped. Now—to keep her in that position, and get ready to have a baby in a couple weeks. Cross your fingers for me!