Can Sleeping Positions Turn A Breech Baby?

Everything about your pregnancy up until this point has been picture perfect. Baby has been meeting all of their in-utero milestones, and is constantly kicking you — at 2:00 a.m., unfortunately. So when you went to your last ultrasound, you weren’t expecting to find out that your baby has now become breech. You want to deliver your baby vaginally, so you start frantically searching to see how you can flip your little friend so that they’re facing downwards. But can sleeping positions turn a breech baby? It depends, according to the experts.


You might have heard the expression “breech baby” but not really know what it means. “A breech baby is positioned feet or bottom in the uterus, instead of headfirst,” explains Dr. Nisarg Patel, M.D., a board-certified family medicine doctor. There are actually three different types of breech positions, according to a PubMed study. They include frank breech (where Baby’s legs are flat up against their head and their tush is facing towards the birth canal), complete breech (which is when Baby’s knees are bent and both feet and tush are facing downward), and incomplete breech (when only one of Baby’s knees is bent and the other foot and butt are closest to the birth canal).

What Could Cause A Breech Baby?

There are so many reasons why your baby would decide to go into the breech position — and it has nothing to do with something you physically did. So don’t blame yourself if your baby is head down one day, and then takes a turn downwards. “There are many reasons a baby will be breech,” says Dr. Shannon Schellhammer, M.D., an OB-GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. “Most babies start out in the breech position and move to head down later in the pregnancy, so it depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy.”

“The uterus structure itself can prevent a baby from turning to head down if there are things like a large fibroid or other anatomy changes,” she continues. “Also, the baby itself may be the reason for not turning to head down if the baby is large or if there is a low fluid around the baby.” And even something like your baby’s umbilical cord could be the cause for a breech baby.  “The length of the umbilical cord can cause Baby to be breech, especially if it’s short because your baby doesn’t have enough length to turn,” explains Dr. Cheruba Prabakar, M.D., an OB-GYN.

While there’s a lot to be said for having babies when you’re older, an advanced maternal age might factor into your baby being breech, researchers found. If your little one is born earlier and has a lower birth weight, they might also be in the breech position. A scarred uterus (usually from a previous cesarean section) were also more likely to have a breech baby.

Is It Possible To Turn A Breech Baby?

Now that you know what a breech baby is, you might be wondering how to get your little one ready for delivery. But is it even possible to turn a breech baby on your own? Not really, say the experts. “A breech baby might turn, but it depends on several factors, such as the type of breech position, the amount of amniotic fluid, the size and shape of the uterus, and the gestational age,” explains Dr. Patel. “Some breech babies will turn spontaneously before labor, while others may need some help from external or internal methods.” In fact, the National Institutes of Health reported that 50% of breech babies at 34 weeks will turn all by themselves by 38 weeks. That said, approximately 3-4% of full-term babies will be born breech.

What Are Some Safe Sleep Positions To Turn A Breech Baby?

You’re getting close to delivery, and Baby is showing no signs that they want to flip into position. You’ve heard tales about sleep positions to turn a breech baby, but are they true? “No, there is no evidence to show any sleep positions will change the baby’s position,” says Schellhammer. “There is an old wives’ tale that using frozen peas or another frozen vegetable on the baby’s butt or head which will possibly encourage the baby to turn away from the cold but it’s not true.

But if you’re planning to try getting your baby to switch while you’re sleeping, you need to do so safely. “All patients should sleep on their left side for medical reasons,” adds Prabakar. Sleeping on your right side or your back can compress the aorta and the inferior vena cava, reducing blood flow to your fetus.

Are There Any Positions To Help Turn A Breech Baby?

While your sleeping position probably won’t make your baby move downwards, there are positions you can practice that could help. Patel recommends the bridge position: Lie on the floor with your legs bent and your feet flat on the ground. Raise your hips and pelvis into a bridge pose and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. You can do this twice a day. You might also do an inversion: Lie on your back with your hips elevated by pillows or cushions. You can do this for 10 minutes at a time, three times a day. “This can help create more space in your pelvis for your baby to turn,” he adds.

If you do attempt to help Baby move, it would need to be done within a certain window, advises Patel. “The best time to try these positions is between 32 and 37 weeks of pregnancy, when there is still enough room for your baby to move around,” he says. “After 37 weeks, it becomes harder for your baby to turn due to the limited space and the increased weight.”

Before attempting any kind of activity to turn your breech baby, you should consult your healthcare provider to ensure that you can safely do these positions, since people with high blood pressure or preeclampsia, vaginal bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid, placenta previa or placental abruption, a history of preterm labor or cervical incompetence, or medical conditions that affect mobility or balance should not perform these positions.

More than likely, your baby will flip into position before delivery, allowing them to take a turn — for the better.

Studies cited:

Gray, C., Shanahan, M. (2022). “Breech Presentation,” StatPearls,

Cammu, H., Dony, N., Martens, G., Colman, R. (2014). “Common determinants of breech presentation at birth in singletons: a population-based study,” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology,

Cohain, J. (2007). “Turning breech babies after 34 weeks: the if, how, & when of turning breech babies,” Midwifery Today,


Dr. Nisarg Patel, M.D., a board-certified family medicine doctor

Dr. Cheruba Prabakar, M.D., an OB-GYN

Dr. Shannon Schellhammer, M.D., an OB-GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies

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