Around your 35th week of pregnancy, your baby is just three weeks short of full-term -- almost full grown. Around this time, your baby should begin to descend into its birthing position, with its head downward. If your baby doesn't position itself correctly and becomes turned upside down or diagonally, it becomes breech, a condition that can be uncomfortable or even dangerous.
Last Trimester and Breech Birth
Around week 35 of your pregnancy, your baby is in the optimal time to become positioned for birth, since by about 38 weeks, he will become too big to move freely. If your baby is positioned diagonally with the head further down under the rest of his body and feet, he will probably finish turning correctly. However, if his feet are positioned on the downward end of a diagonal line, below his body and head, he's in a footling breech position, which can be problematic, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent your baby from turning breech, although women with unusually shaped uteruses or an imbalance of amniotic fluid are more likely to have a breech birth. If your baby doesn't turn correctly on its own between 35 and 38 weeks, your doctor may recommend a procedure called the external cephalic version, or ECV, to try to turn the baby. If this doesn't work, then you will likely need to have a C-section, which is safer in this situation for both the baby and mother than attempting a normal birth.
External Cephalic Version
An ECV is a procedure in which a doctor tries to turn your baby from outside of your womb. It is conducted in the hospital, with medication to relax your muscles and instruments to monitor your and the baby’s health, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. While you lie down, a doctor will use his hands on the outside of your stomach to try to reposition the baby so that he lays head-down. The rate of success for an ECV is about sixty-five percent.
While there are no reliable alternatives to a C-section or ECV, you can try some nonmedical treatments. Try lying flat on your back with your pelvis raised about a foot off the ground, supported by a pillow. Stay in this position for about five to fifteen minutes. You can also try the ancient Chinese technique of moxibustion, which uses herbs to stimulate acupressure points. Finally, a relaxed state brought on by hypnosis has had moderate success in helping reposition a breech baby. However, you shouldn't attempt any alternative treatments without the approval of your doctor.