Teri Vlassopoulos’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.
If you are growing a human, from about 30 weeks onwards it should be head down in your womb, biding its time until it’s ready to smash its way through your vaginal canal. Unfortunately some babies are lazy, have a poor sense of direction, or just want to mess with you and your plan for a perfect unassisted home birth and remain breech well into the third trimester. Some are even transverse (sideways), as if your uterus is a goddamn hammock for them to lounge in. Don’t worry, most babies flip on their own eventually, but there are exercises you can do to speed up the process and avoid medical intervention.
1. Balance is key. If your muscles are tight or your pelvis is misaligned, your baby will have difficulty moving into the correct position. Daily forward leaning inversions help lengthen the muscles and point the baby in the right direction. To do an inversion, sit with your knees on the couch or your bed. Slowly lower your upper half until your forearms are on the ground. Do this multiple times a day being careful not to lose your balance and land directly on your head.
2. Go on all fours. This is less extreme than an inversion, but just as helpful. Get down on your knees and rest your forearms on the ground. Stick your butt into the air. Then twerk.
3. Sit up straight, young lady! Always maintain good posture; a baby is not going to take you seriously if you keep slouching like that.
4. Visit your local pool. While it may be difficult to stay upside down on land, flips in the water might coax the baby to do the same thing. If you live close to an ocean, even better. Go swimming at dawn near a pod of dolphins. They will sense your predicament and use their beaks to nudge your baby into the right position. Relax, they’re just dolphins.
5. On your belly, carefully paint a picture of your baby in the position you would like it to be (head down!). Take a photograph of it. Use it for your Christmas cards.
6. Talk to your baby, calmly and rationally. Don’t beg or plead; the baby has already figured out your weaknesses and, like a horse, can sense when you’re afraid or desperate and will take an evil kind of pleasure in it. Ask the baby to flip. Please flip. Please, just this once. Offer presents.
7. Alternatively, your partner can place their mouth on your lower abdomen and encourage the baby to move towards their voice. Do this until everyone agrees that it’s getting kind of weird.
9. Tie a rope to the ceiling. Climb the rope and hang upside down. Do this twice a day for as long as you can manage, preferably before meals. Don’t be alarmed if you feel nauseous afterwards. You should be used to that feeling by now anyway.
10. Apply something cold to the top of your uterus and something warm to the bottom. Like the most basic of single celled organisms, the baby will instinctually move towards the warmth, unless they’ve already succumbed to reverse psychology, in which case, try the other way around.
11. Concentrate really, really hard. How can you not have a psychic connection with the being inhabiting your body?
12. Moxibustion! Saying the word out loud is almost as helpful as actually doing it. Moxibustion, moxibustion, moxibustion. Moxibustion involves burning mugwort next to the outer corner of your baby toe. The herb encourages the baby to wiggle around in there. Your acupuncturist can do this, but why not try it yourself too? Moxibustion.
There’s no guarantee that any of these exercises will work, but they’re worth trying if only to spare the guilt that you didn’t do everything you possibly could to prepare yourself and your baby for an easy, intervention-free labor. No one will judge you if the baby doesn’t turn, and even if they do, they will transmit their judgment via silent loaded looks and/or talking behind your back so as to avoid awkward conversations and/or making you cry.
Best of luck.
Teri Vlassopoulos is a writer living in Toronto. Her second book, a novel, Escape Plans, was released in October. She's an Aries with a Gemini rising.