How to Turn a Breech Baby

Two weeks before my due date I was visiting my midwife for my weekly check. I was disappointed when she announced- again- “She still hasn’t dropped,” meaning little Violet still was not ready to be born. I was more than ready, and after watching my blood pressure slowly climb the past few weeks, my midwife was ready for this all to come to a close as well.

To help her decide whether to induce labor or not, my midwife sent me to another room for fetal monitoring. She wanted to check if my climbing blood pressure was having any harmful effects on the baby.

Incidentally, Violet herself held up the monitoring with a bout of the hiccups. During fetal monitoring, a special device is strapped to a pregnant mother’s abdomen that can pick up on the baby’s heartbeat. (Most women have one on for at least a few minutes when they first arrive at the hospital to deliver.) Another device is held in the mother’s hand with the instructions to click the button whenever she feels baby move. With these two monitors in place, doctors can check that baby’s heart rate is rising when she moves.

When my midwife came in the room to check how everything was going, I asked if the results would be skewed because of Violet’s hiccups. She said I would have to stay longer so they could get an accurate reading, and manually started feeling my stomach to sense how Violet was doing. It was only at this point- I suppose as she felt more prominently the area the hiccups were coming from- that she began to run her hands even more slowly and deliberately, and then announced, surprised, “I think this baby is sitting breech!”

Within minutes an advising doctor was in the room informing my husband and I that they could attempt a version, a maneuver in which they attempt to turn a baby over by pushing on the outside of the mother’s abdomen, and if this didn’t work a c-section would be necessary. He followed this startling news by asking us if we would like to schedule this for the following morning.

In less than two hours we went from a relatively normal, healthy pregnancy to a possible emergency situation.

After talking for just a few minutes, we decided to wait on the version and possible c-section a few days. This would allow us time to inform our families, who live out of state, of what was going on; as well as give us the opportunity to do anything in our power to turn this baby before undergoing the version attempt, which can be extremely painful.

What Does Breech Mean?

For those who haven’t heard, babies are supposed to be born head first. Since this is the largest part of their body, this makes for the easiest birthing process- once a newborn’s head and shoulders are delivered, the rest of their body generally follows pretty quickly.

A breech “presentation” simply means a baby who is not head-down. The baby can be sitting buttocks or feet first. The definition of breech is further divided into categories by which direction, mother’s front or back, the baby is facing.

Possible Outcomes

Very few doctors in the United States will deliver your baby vaginally if it is breech. Most doctors are not being trained in this technique anymore, even though a generation ago, delivering a breech baby vaginally was relatively normal. The vast majority, ninety-five percent, of breech babies delivered vaginally have no complications. If assistance is needed by a medical professional, it usually consists of turning the baby in the birth canal manually or the use of forceps. At times, an episiotomy needs to be made to assist in the baby’s birth.

If you are seeing a typical American OBGYN, you have very little chance of even attempting to deliver a breech baby vaginally. The doctor will insist on delivering the baby via cesarean section.

One possible risk of turning a breech baby is that they may still turn back to being breech again after they have been turned.

10 Ways to Turn a Breech Baby

Most ideas we researched seemed far-fetched, at best, but we tried some of them. When you come to the end of your rope, you’ll try anything, far-fetched or not. For the sake of relevancy, I’ll start with the most reasonable and proven methods, and move to the more obscure and questionable.

Successful Version Attempt

External Cephalic Version

External cephalic version, or version, is the procedure used to turn a breech or side-lying baby to a head-down position before labor starts. When the attempt is successful, a version makes it possible to attempt a vaginal delivery. A version is usually attempted at 36 or 37 weeks. A version should only be attempted in a hospital by a doctor with the help of ultrasound equipment and fetal monitoring. External cephalic version has a success rate of 58% and is quite painful.

Webster’s Technique

The Chiropractic Journal, a publication of the World Chiropractic Alliance, reports, “The Webster Technique, discovered by Dr. Larry Webster, founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), is a specific chiropractic adjustment for pregnant mothers. It is a chiropractic technique designed to relieve the causes of intrauterine constraint.”  The Webster Technique has been in practice for over 20 years.  The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue that 82% of doctors using the Webster Technique reported success. 

This is the method that ended up working for us! The Webster Technique does require multiple attempts over about two weeks. In my case, my daughter turned over after only one visit, one day before my scheduled version attempt. I don’t believe this is common, but we also attribute much of Violet’s turning to prayer, which we and many of our friends and family were fervently doing.

The Breech Tilt

Some women believe that you can lie at an angle, either on a board or ironing board, with your head down and feet up and help the baby to turn over this way. The theory is that this angle helps the baby tuck their head, thus making it easier for them to flip over, like doing a somersault. Supporters recommend doing this fifteen to twenty minutes two to three times a day as early as 32 weeks and until the baby turns head down.


This method can be used alone or in combination with other ideas mentioned here, such as the “breech tilt”. This is simply rubbing both hands wide and flat around the belly in the direction you want the baby to turn. Both hands should stay opposite each other and move circularly, around the baby.


Yoga is an ancient system of breathing practices, physical exercises and postures, and meditation believed to unite the practitioner's body, mind, and spirit. Certain yoga poses are believed to help a breech baby turn head down. These include kneeling on all fours with shoulders against the floor and buttocks up in the air, giving more space to the abdomen and rib cage for baby to move; laying with a pillow under your pelvis to raise your hips higher than your head, as well as a variety of inverse positions.

Yoga Positions for Breech Babies


Believers in the practice of acupuncture think that the insertion of disposable needles, just under the skin, can release or balance energy in the body.  If you would like to seek the avenue of acupuncture, you will need to find an experienced, licensed practitioner.  Acupuncturists believe that the release of energy can help the baby find a better position by allowing the mother’s body to relax so that baby can position itself properly for birth.

Cold at the Top of the Uterus

It’s possible that placing an ice pack (do not place directly on your skin) or even a frozen bag of peas against the top of your uterus may cause your baby to attempt to turn it’s head away from the cold temperature.

Music at the Pubic Bone

Some believe the playing music (through headphones or a small speaker) near the pubic bone may cause your baby to attempt to turn towards the music. In essence, you’re showing your baby through music which way to move.

Light Near Pubic Bone

On the same note, a bright light can be shown against the skin near the pubic bone. Babies can see light, such as bright sunlight, through their mother’s skin, uterus, and amniotic fluid. It’s possible that they may see a point of bright light as well. Light could either be held in one place near the pubic bone, or moved repeatedly from the top to the bottom of the belly.


This technique, of course, can be used in conjunction with any of the methods above. Some mothers find it helpful to imagine their baby in their womb and picture the baby turning over. This is best done while relaxed and with your eyes closed.

Violet ended up being born without the intervention of c-section. I credit God answering prayer and the chiropractic Webster’s technique with our personal success story. My midwife and doctor were amazed at how quickly she turned to the head down position, even the chiropractor was surprised.

Here’s wishing you the best with your own breech baby story!

Comments 31 comments

shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 7 years ago from Arizona

This is a very thorough article. Well done. I'm glad to hear your daughter was born without complications!

Anonymous 7 years ago

It's important to remember that a c-section is not a failure and is often a very safe and often life saving way to deliver a breech baby or any baby who is in danger. I have a friend whose baby was delivered c-section because he was breech and it did save his life. They found out after the delivery that his umbilical cord was too short and any attempts at turning him or delivering him vaginally would have been fatal for baby and possibly for mom. Unfortunately, the stigma attached to c-sections as being a failure put my friend into months of depression. Every birth with a healthy mom and baby is a success.

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 7 years ago Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Shawna! Violet is now a very healthy toddler, who keeps her mommy running.

Good point, Anonymous. I don't in any way believe that a c-section is a failure, or that mothers should feel guilty who deliver their babies this way. I had to come to terms with those possibilities and feelings when I scheduled my own c-section while my daughter was still breech- as the doctors were expecting the version attempt would not work.

I only set out to present some techniques pregnant women can use to avoid a c-section if possible, which is a major surgery. If these attempts wouldn't work, any mother of a breech baby- or any other emergency birth situation- should know that they did their best for their baby and themselves and the end result is the same- a new life! This is worth celebrating, no matter what the means.

wildfremd profile image

wildfremd 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

Great article, Sarah! It was very thorough, and I love the videos! Keep up the good work. :)

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 7 years ago Author

Thanks so much for the encouragement, wildfremd! Best of luck to you on Hubpages. :)

DKY 7 years ago

Amazing! Good technical information and options.

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 7 years ago Author

Thanks, DKY! Glad you enjoyed it.

NavelgazingMidwife 7 years ago

Good article, but the version is an External Cephalic Version, not celiac. Cephalic = Head. It'd be great if you could fix that. :)

Marianne 7 years ago

dear Anonymous, I am responding to your mention of depression and the stigma associated with caesarian sections - we forget that a mother is more prone to depression after an elective caesarain section because her body is not infused with thre cocktail of hormones that are released during labour. The placenta takes over some of the function of the pituitary gland during pregnancy, and the hormones of labour mitigate the effect of losing the placenta and the hormones and neurochemicals that induce positive feelings. It is therefore important to offer mothers who have had caesarian sections MORE support and respect, not less. These symptoms of depression emanate from within the mother, not necessarily from the supposed social stigma of caesarian section. A woman's body experiences a gap, a physical sense of loss when the physiological birth process is not followed. Thus, though performing caesarian sections is sometimes imperative, care should be taken that they are performed ONLY when necessary, not routinely, to avoid the painfull sequelae of postnatal depression for the whole family.

Wendy 7 years ago

I'm not certain how you picked the order in which these appear - there is no data (that I have seen) showing which technique is more effective. Did you write this "For the sake of relevancy, I’ll start with the most reasonable and proven methods, and move to the more obscure and questionable." I would argue for a reverse order for the list.

I turned my breech baby at (supposedly) 39 weeks - she was actually born 3 weeks later so perhaps she thought that she was only 37 weeks and had lots of time.

The techniques that I used included:

moxibustion (acupuncturist)


homeopathic remedy (pulsatilla)

visualization (I felt hokey but I knew how she was lying so I imagined HOW she would physically turn)

cold pack on her head (high in my fundus)

warm pack low on my pelvis to attract her

flash light low on my pelvis to attract her

my other children talked to her low on my pelvis to attract her

I electric toothbrushed her head through my uterine wall to get her to move

I lay on an inclined ironing board every night for 3 weeks

I crawled everywhere for 3-4 weeks (starting at around 35 weeks)

and .... (DRUM ROLL, please)

one night after inclining, my husband held a rebozo under my hips and rocked my pelvis back and forth and then he shook my belly. That night, 7 days before her scheduled due date, I woke up to the most nauseating sensation of my fetus turning into the vertex position. Her due date came and went (a whole new stress with the medical pressure to be induced) and she was born naturally, perfectly, (easily even) and 16 days late. I never tried external cephalic version nor the Webster but I'd say that we did everything else to "draw her down".

I suppose that every baby and mother partnership is different and what works for one pair may or may not be helpful for another team. Best wishes!

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 7 years ago Author

NavelgazingMidwife: Thanks for the heads-up! Corrections made. :)

Marianne: Thanks for expounding on the issues of a cesarean section and depression. Good points! Thank you for sharing.

Wendy: Great to hear your story!

I chose the order of techniques based on research as to what was most commonly recommended by health experts. I tried to look at websites by professionals (as opposed to blogs or advice columns).

Glad to hear that your attempts worked as well! The most important component of all this information is the end result- a healthy baby being born to a healthy mommy. I'm so happy that we both have beautiful baby girls to show for our efforts!

SEXY SB 6 years ago


Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 6 years ago Author

As far as I know, that is the same as breech. The doctor may have specified 1 because when describing a pregnancy, they always say either single or multiple.

However, if you are unsure, or have further questions, I would ask your doctor.

Thanks for reading and commenting! Hope your pregnancy ends healthy and happy for both you and your little one.

B. Abel Learwellie 6 years ago

Seeking a help:

Our baby is breech. The first time my wife was told about this, she was worry and she was recommended to do some exercises. After a week, our baby turned to a better position. I was very happy about this news.

Later on about another week, the baby has gone back with head up, feet down. This is taking a little long time now and she's almost at the point of delivery. She's very worry now and I am also worry. Please help us if you can.

Hope to hear from you. My e-mail: or call me at +231-657-6076.


Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 6 years ago Author

Dear Abel,

I'm so sorry to hear about your wife and baby's situation. I hope that it has already resolved itself!

Sadly, I am no expert on pregnancy, birth, or breech babies. Continue to refer to the advice and expertise of the doctor or professional overseeing your wife's delivery. I would also highly recommend seeing a chiropractor who is experienced in the Webster's technique.

Hoping the best for you and your family!


Clare  5 years ago

Such a great article. It's so annoying to be told that your baby is in the breech position.

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 5 years ago Author

Thanks for stopping by, Clare!

subha 5 years ago

Wow what an amazing article, thanks a million.

Gopi 5 years ago

I have a breach baby so doc advise. Me to go for c section only .this article is good i'll ask my doc to apply these techniques.

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 5 years ago Author

Thank you, subha!

And Gopi, doctors often aren't very proactive with birthing advice other than medicine and medical intervention. However, if you're well-informed and bring up alternative methods on your own, a good obstetrician should be more than willing to work with you.

I hope you find something that works!

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 5 years ago Author

Thank you, subha!

And Gopi, doctors often aren't very proactive with birthing advice other than medicine and medical intervention. However, if you're well-informed and bring up alternative methods on your own, a good obstetrician should be more than willing to work with you.

I hope you find something that works!

Sarah Songing profile image

Sarah Songing 5 years ago Author

Thank you, subha!

And Gopi, doctors often aren't very proactive with birthing advice other than medicine and medical intervention. However, if you're well-informed and bring up alternative methods on your own, a good obstetrician should be more than willing to work with you.

I hope you find something that works!

FOREX NINJA profile image

FOREX NINJA 5 years ago

An intelligent piece of article which is very informative and educative.Thanks a million times for sharing this great tips.

tasksgirl profile image

tasksgirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Very, very good to know. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and was just wondering the other day what I would do if my baby was breech. I definitely do NOT want a C-Section! :)

Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Wise piece of article which is well and greatly shared.thanks for getting me informed.

TamaraNugent 4 years ago

I went to the midwife today. Not affiliated with any doctor. She informed us baby is transverse and presenting breech. This means baby is sideways but bottom more down than head and bottom equal. I was terrified, I am terrified. I am 39 weeks and last week baby was in an okay position head down but not engaged. I am okay with birthing a breech baby, God made me strong and He is a good physician/healer.

I have been praying for the baby to turn and peace and strength. I am so very glad your story is here. It is motivating to me. Thank you and Bless you


heather 4 years ago

I've never posted before but hope you get to read this Tamara-your post took me back a few years to my own experience. I'm currently pregnant (26 wks) with my 3rd. My 1st and 2nd were both breech when I went to the hospital to deliver. I was induced several days before my due date with my 1st due to high blood pressure. After getting me settled in the hospital bed they discovered my baby was breech. Thankfully the dr. came and performed a version, manually turning the baby. I was told to stay sitting for the entire labor so the baby would stay in place-not very fun. But, again, thankfully he came out naturally! With my second, I went a couple of weeks before my due date to have the baby turned. But she never stayed in that position. She was doing flips until I went into labor 11 days past my due date. Knowing she was breech the dr. kept pressuring me to schedule a c-section but I held off. Upon arrival to the hospital I was 8cm and she was still breech. The nurses told me I would have a c-section and began to prepare me for one. My water broke just before they wheeled me into the operating room. After the dr. arrived he checked me once more-she had turned! So I was wheeled back to the delivery room for a natural birth. I can only contribute this miracle to God! You are doing the right thing by praying if you are in this situation. I would definitely try any of the techniques there are for turning a breech baby but ultimatey it's up to our Creator. I have tried to prepare myself for a c-section each time knowing it's a possibility. If that is what happens with this 3rd baby, it's in God's hands. However they come out, they are still miracles!

Nikki 4 years ago

I turned my baby at 37 weeks 2 days by doing alittle light off roading. Now I'm not saying go find the bumpiest terrian and giver' I'm just saying a back road or dirt feild something light and non-stressful. It worked for me and not may not for you but one more helpful tip for turning a baby.

Johna622 2 years ago

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Pharme451 2 years ago

Very nice site! cheap goods

IKE Becky. 21 months ago

Thanks Soo much SAra!.....av bn overly worried as my baby is still breeched at 39weeks, am having leakages and d doc say its Ceaseran!.......we ddint plan 4 a ceaseran and can't even afford d expence now but I av always dreamt and wanted a natural birth. Reading ur article has greatly enlightend me and we are prayerfully determined to try out all d techniques! happly writing ds cos d baby is responding to soft melody on my pelvic and turning to light flash.....thank U all 4 d encouraging experiences and I will gladly share my love n happiness wen I safely droped naturally.

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