Lie means how the baby lies in the womb. The head-down baby is in a vertical lie, sometimes called cephalic to use a Latin term to mean the head is coming. Breech is an old English term to mean the baby’s pelvis is coming first. Both a head up (breech) and a head-down (cephalic) baby are in a vertical lie.
When a baby is lying across the abdomen or sideways, we say baby is in a “Transverse lie”. An oblique lie is when baby’s body is diagonal in the womb. The head or pelvis is towards one hip and the opposite “pole” or end of the baby is under the opposite rib. A baby in an oblique lie might have their head by the right hip and their bottom beneath the left ribs, for instance.
Using Spinning Babies® techniques for an Unstable Lie
Here’s a story of how Crista, a pregnant woman from Twin Cities, Minnesota, used Spinning Babies® recommended techniques to help her breech baby turn head down:
“I am 37 weeks pregnant with a breech baby who has flipped a couple of times, so I think he has an unstable lie. I was wondering what kind of options there are where I live…”
To help people in Crista’s situation, we offer a listing of Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioners, bodyworkers who understand fetal positioning when self-care isn’t enough. So Crista, not hearing back, took the initiative to explore the website, which is an excellent idea since my most common response is to suggest the website pages on flipping a breech!
Happily, Crista was the kind of person to initiate her life course. She tried the Forward-leaning Inversion. Her baby went head down, but baby came back to breech. The doctor tried to turn baby by pressing through her abdomen (External Cephalic Version, or ECV), but baby came back to breech.
She wrote, “My 38-week baby had flipped head down twice (once from Spinning Babies® and once from a version [ECV] at the hospital), but wouldn’t stay that way- what’s considered unstable lie. I was 5 days away from having a version at the hospital, if it worked they would have induced me. If not, C-section.”
About this time, I was able to call Crista and offer a plan for helping baby flip head down and gave her the name of a breech-skilled provider in our area.
Suggestions for Unstable Lie
The main thing I suggest for unstable lie is the same as for the persistent breech. Seven (7) Forward-leaning Inversions (FLI) in one 24 hour period, about 15 minutes to 2 hours apart. Do not set an alarm to wake yourself, sleep is paramount! Do not do FLI after eating or during heartburn. And see the page on Forward-leaning Inversion to avoid falls or a stroke. See the proper way to do it because the internet is full of pictures of the wrong way to do it.
Crista wrote, “Thanks so much for talking with me last night! I did a few Forward-leaning Inversions and Side-lying Release after we talked and then had a vivid dream about the baby flipping. Went in for an ultrasound this morning and that boy is head down! I could cry. Thank you so much for what you do, it is a gift.
Planning to wear the pregnancy belt and continue (one FLI a day) and Side-lying Releases (SLR) to keep him this way (and walking and sitting on the ball)- no ironing board inversions. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
I replied, “Such good news! Wow! Walk, walk walk! With a good stride and shoes. If you do decide to induce, please consider one FLI the morning before starting the IV. The SLR and FLI can support the normal progress of labor, whether natural or induced. Remember their helpfulness before getting frustrated or tired. Same for pain, as this combination of techniques will also help reduce pain in labor.”
Crista agreed, “Yes! There is no reason to induce now, so I’m just like every other pregnant lady waiting for labor to start. Thanks for the advice for during labor, I will do it!
I loved that your approach is so physiological and practical. My super, by-the-book OBGYN even recommended Spinning Babies® and she is usually very skeptical of anything outside medical guidelines. I wish everybody knew how much control you can actually have over how your baby interacts with your body! I am a believer and am excited to use some of the techniques during labor. Please share my story. I can’t thank you enough.”