How to Safely Turn a Breech Baby

Mid section of pregnant woman lying in bed with open book in foreground

moodboard / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

There are lots of ways to turn a breech baby. Some require nothing more than holding certain positions with your body and others require trained assistance from a doctor or midwife. About 3-4% of babies are breech, including frank breech, near the end of pregnancy. Many of the personal turning techniques can be started around week 30, or even sooner, while others are done closer to labor.

Frozen Peas

Before you start laughing and wondering how frozen peas can help turn a baby, it's simple—it's cold. Babies, like the rest of us, prefer comfort. So using frozen peas placed at the top of your belly near the fundus can encourage your baby to turn away from the cold. Some mothers say that this works really well while laying in a warm bath, others use a warm pack like a rice sock on the lower part of their abdomen. This can be used as often as you like because it's not medical in any way.


Playing music towards your pubic bone is another method employed safely at home. You can get headphones and simply play the music loudly enough that you can hear it towards your pubic bone so that the baby will want to come towards the sound. Some mothers say that they actually start by trying to get the baby to move slightly and begin playing the music to the side of their abdomen, then moving more downwards towards the pubic bone.

Breech Tilt

The breech tilt is an exercise that you can do at home. You want to put your pelvis above your head. The easiest way to do this is to lay the ironing board on the couch (still closed). You lay with your head towards the floor, allowing your feet to be up. While this isn't medical treatment, it can make you dizzy and should only be done for a few minutes at a time. If you're feeling light-headed talk to your doctor or midwife before attempting it again. Some women do a slight variation in the bed with a pile of pillows under their buttocks.


Like the music, the light is designed to encourage the little one to follow the source. Using a flashlight, simply point it at your lower uterus and allow baby to move that direction. Can also be used in conjunction with the cold trick above.


Swimming is one of those things that feels really good at the end of pregnancy. The breaststroke and crawl can be very beneficial in getting baby to move. Some studies also looked at diving (not the high dive) into deep water as a way to turn babies.


Sometimes all your baby needs is a bit of encouragement to flip head down. Finding positions that you assume that give your baby room can be very simple. Good positions to try include hands and knees, kneeling leaning forward and lunging.


Using disposable needles, a practitioner will insert them just into the skin to release qi, prevent it from being blocked or help it move. This release of energy is said to help the baby find a better position by allowing mom's body to move freely and the baby to have the room he/she needs to be well placed in the uterus for birth.


This form of traditional Chinese medicine involves burning a moxa (mugwort) stick near a certain point on the small toe of the foot (bladder 67). You can find practitioners in a variety of settings including the acupuncture clinic and other practitioners.

Chiropractic Care — The Webster Technique

The Webster Technique is used to help the pelvis open and the ligaments soften, allowing the baby enough room to assume a good position in the pelvis. A chiropractor should be trained in this technique but be sure to ask how often they've used it. This is not usually a one-time technique, though it can be.

External Cephalic Version (ECV)

The most medical attempt to turn a breech baby is known as an external cephalic version (ECV). This simply means that your doctor or midwife will use their hands on the outside of your abdomen to encourage your baby to get into a head-down or vertex position. Typically this is done at the hospital with the help of ultrasound to monitor the baby and the location of the placenta before, during and after the procedure. Some practitioners prefer to use this with a uterine relaxant like terbutaline (Brethine) and some also use epidural anesthesia because of the pain involved to mom. Most mothers who have had this done report that they would much rather have the version that has a cesarean section, even with the pain involved. This is typically a once or twice attempt and is done after 37 weeks of gestation.

The truth is that not all babies will turn, despite the best efforts of a mother and her practitioner. Some babies will remain breech for reasons that are known until the time of birth like a uterine issue or sometimes a problem with the baby, though these would normally be seen in an ultrasound. Breech babies are about 3-4% of all babies at term. Some babies are also stubborn and don't turn until labor has begun. Your practitioner may be skilled at vaginal breech birth or refer you to someone who is, if you are a good candidate, while others may suggest a cesarean birth if your baby does not turn.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If your baby is breech. January 2019.

  2. UT Southwestern Medical Center. Can you turn a breech baby around?. December 2015.

  3. American Academy of Family Physicians. Breech Babies: What Can I Do if My Baby is Breech?. Updated March 2018.

  4. US National Library of Medicine. Breech birth. Updated September 2018.

  5. Pai M, Kushtagi P, Chakravarti S. Manual Obstetrics (Fourth Edition). Elsevier India. 2015.

Additional Reading
  • External cephalic version. Practice Bulletin No. 161. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2016;127:e54–61.

  • Hofmeyr GJ, Kulier R, West HM. External cephalic version for breech presentation at term. Cochrane Data-base of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000083. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000083.pub3. (Meta-analysis)

  • Cook HA. Experience with external cephalic version and selective vaginal breech delivery in private practice. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1993;168:1886–9; discussion 1889–90.
  • Cunningham FG, Leveno KJ, Bloom SL, Spong CY, Dashe JS, Hoffman BL, et al. Breech delivery. In: Williams obstetrics. 24th ed. New York (NY): McGraw-Hill Education; 2014. p. 558–73.
  • Westgren M, Edvall H, Nordstrom L, Svalenius E, Ranstam J. Spontaneous cephalic version of breech presentation in the last trimester. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1985;92:19–22.