Who would have thought that a tiny pill that you can get off the shelf at your local chemist or health-food store could probably turn your breech baby into the right position for birth in just three days? Well it’s true!
If your baby is lying in the breech position by the 36th week of pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will probably start talking about performing external cephalic version or ECV. Some doctors and midwives are prepared to deliver breech babies – depending on exactly how the baby is lying – but having the baby head down in the womb is definitely safer.
When ECV is performed, the doctor uses his hands to feel where your baby’s head and bottom are. Then, using pressure from the outside, he or she tries as gently as possible to turn the baby around. You would first have an ultrasound scan done, to see exactly how the baby is lying. The scan will also hopefully show if there is a reason why the baby shouldn’t be turned manually. Sometimes there is.
Before attempting to turn the baby, you may be given some medication to relax your abdominal muscles. Some babies turn very easily, but some are harder to turn and the mother may feel some discomfort — relaxing and breathing deeply will make it easier for you. Sometimes babies simply can’t be turned this way, or occasionally they may go back into the breech position on their own, a few days later.
THE HASSLE FREE WAY TO TURN A BREECH BABY
If you are familiar with homeopathy, you will no doubt know about a homeopathic remedy called Pulsatilla. It is used widely by homeopaths to help turn breech babies. Many regular doctors don’t know about it — though I personally know of several doctors, including at least one ob/gyn, who also have training in homeopathy, so they can offer the best of both worlds to their patients.
However, it isn’t necessary to get a doctor to prescribe Pulsatilla. It is a natural remedy, is safe to use in pregnancy, and you can pick it up from the shelf in selected pharmacies or health stores in most countries. (If you can’t, buy on the internet, or consult a homeopath). A potency I have personally seen used successfully for turning breech babies, is Pulsatilla 30x and it is safe because it is a low potency remedy. Potencies 3C, 6C, 12C or 30C can also be used if a slightly higher dose is needed. High potencies should be taken only under the guidance of a homeopath or homeopathically trained doctor.
There are many advantages to using this natural way to turn your baby. It’s inexpensive and totally without discomfort. It is probably the safest way of turning a breech baby, as it will simply not work if there is a physiological reason why your baby shouldn’t be turned. That also means that an ultrasound scan isn’t necessary. Sometimes if your doctor has tried to turn your baby round manually and it hasn’t worked, Pulsatilla will often do the trick. It can turn a baby in the last week, or even days before the birth and in early labour.
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK
To get the best results, it helps to understand how homeopathic remedies work. They are most effective if you dissolve them under your tongue, and don’t eat, drink or brush your teeth for an hour before or after taking them. Pulsatilla can also easily be antidoted and rendered ineffective by coffee (even decaffeinated coffee), or by strong smelling substances like eucalyptus, camphor or menthol. Regarding coffee, caffeine is not good for babies, and it’s best to cut down on coffee when pregnant. But if you are drinking it, and get caffeine withdrawal symptoms if you stop, it’s fine to have cocoa instead. Cocoa is quite high in caffeine, and won’t antidote Pulsatilla.
It is probably sufficient to take Pulsatilla once a day. If it’s going to work for you, the baby should turn within three days of your starting to take the remedy. If it hasn’t, it’s fine to take the remedy for a few more days. If you are taking Pulsatilla tablets, 3 small tablets or one large tablet per dose is plenty, and if you get it in granule form you would need about a quarter of a teaspoon of the granules per dose.
Dr Shaun Bresler, a Cape Town homeopathic practitioner, says Pulsatilla is rightly the homeopath’s favourite remedy for turning breech babies. However, if Pulsatilla doesn’t work for the mother, he recommends seeing a trained homeopath. He or she would take a detailed case history from the mother, and give her a remedy that might be better for her particular ‘constitution’. Once the baby has turned, it is fine to stop taking the remedy. Homeopathic remedies can go on working for a long time after they have been taken.
SOME MOMS’ STORIES
Ellen: This was my first baby and I very badly wanted to have a vaginal birth. When my baby hadn’t turned by 37 weeks, my midwife said she would need to refer me to an obstetrician to have her turned using external version. Then I remembered hearing that homeopathic Pulsatilla could be used to turn a baby and I asked my midwife. She said she didn’t know enough about it to advise me, and suggested that I find a homeopath. I did, and several days after starting to take Pulsatilla, my baby turned on her own and a few weeks later I gave birth to her vaginally at home as I had wished.
Shelley: When it was found that my baby was lying in the breech position late in my pregnancy, my doctor suggested that we do something. He tried to turn the baby round with his hands, but failed. Then we learned in childbirth preparation class that taking a remedy called Pulsatilla could help turn breech babies. I got some, and took it for about a week. My baby didn’t turn, and I ended up having a Caesarean.
When my baby was delivered it was found that he had a benign tumour at the base of his skull. That meant that lying head down would have been very uncomfortable for him, and a vaginal birth probably not recommended. But I remembered our teacher saying that it was always safe to take Pulsatilla. She said if there was a reason why the baby shouldn’t turn, the Pulsatilla wouldn’t work but it would do no harm at the recommended dose. We feel we did the best we could for our baby, and we are just happy that he arrived safe and healthy.
Amy: My first birth had been normal and quite easy, with baby and me going home six hours after the delivery. But with my second pregnancy things looked as if they might not be that simple. My baby was lying in the breech position, so my ob/gyn said he would try to turn her using external version. He did try, and he worked very hard. But my baby had other ideas! She simply wouldn’t turn. To make things worse, I had what the doctor called an irritable uterus. It would contract hard every time he tried to turn the baby. So he gave me some Ipradol to stop my uterus from contracting. The Ipradol gave me heart palpitations, but I was very motivated and willing to go through anything. Fortunately my doctor understood that.
When my baby wouldn’t turn the first time, my doctor agreed to my request that we try again the next week. So back I went, and exactly the same thing happened all over again! I was so adamant that I wanted a natural birth that he agreed to give it one last attempt the following week. Then at childbirth preparation classes, we were told that we could use a homeopathic remedy to help turn the baby. I asked my childbirth teacher what it was, and how to get hold of it. I also phoned my doctor to ask how he would feel about me trying it. He said it was fine.
By the time I got it, I had only two days to go before my doctor’s appointment. My childbirth teacher said it could take longer than that for the Pulsatilla to work, but I decided to give it a try anyway. When I got to my doctor, the baby hadn’t turned, but something very remarkable did happen. Before doing anything else, my doctor put his hands very gently onto my abdomen to feel where the baby’s head was. He had barely touched me, when under his hands the baby “flipped around” and turned all by herself. My doctor was most surprised, and said he had never had a baby turn quite like that before. He wanted to know the name of the remedy I took, for future reference.
Where to get help
Homeopathic Pulsatilla is safe, cheap and easy to use. If your health food store or pharmacy doesn’t have any in stock, they can order it for you, or you can buy it on the internet. Potencies 30x, 200x, 3C, 6C, 12C or at most 30C are recommended in this case as they are very low potencies. If you are in any doubt about self-dosing, you can speak to a homeopath or a doctor with some homeopathic training. Because they take a personal case history, they could also give you a higher potency if you need one, or occasionally even a different remedy better suited to you personally.
Written by Pat Törngren © 2012