My Baby is Breech: Help!
Your pregnancy has gone swimmingly. Other than a little morning sickness and heartburn, you and your baby check out at every appointment and everything is going according to schedule.
Until that time at your 36 week appointment when a quick ultrasound reveals that your baby is now in the breech position. Hey now! You probably have a lot of questions: does a breech presentation mean I can’t have a vaginal birth? Is breech birth risky? Most of all, is there a way to turn a breech baby? Let’s talk a little bit about what all this means, and give you some ways to turn a breech baby. (Well, maybe.)
What Does Breech Mean?
If your baby is breech, this means that he or she is in a heads up position inside your uterus. This is completely normal in the first and second trimesters, but at some point during the third trimester your baby should turn over into a vertex (head down) position, and stay there in preparation for labor. A head down baby is the safest, easiest, and most desirable presentation for labor and delivery. There are three forms of breech presentation: footling (baby’s foot is born first), frank (baby’s legs are straight up in front of their face), and complete (baby is curled in a tight ball with bottom presenting first).
Can I Have a Vaginal Breech Birth?
A breech delivery comes with its own set of risks and challenges, so it’s important to utilize a care provider who is well trained and highly experienced in breech if you attempt a vaginal birth. Most providers these days are not trained in breech delivery, making a Cesarean a more common and perhaps even safer method of giving birth to a breech baby. We do have a few local options in our area.
How Can I Get My Baby to Turn Head Down?
This is the million dollar question. Are there really any ways to encourage a breech baby to flip? Well, there are no 100% proven methods that work for every baby, but there are definitely a few things you can try.
Forward leaning and inversion-type positions can be helpful in encouraging your baby to wiggle around somewhere else. Spinning Babies has some suggestions with photos that you may want to utilize as long as you’ve been 100% diagnosed with a breech baby.
This may come as a surprise, but an adjustment by a prenatal chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique may help flip your breech baby. The Webster Technique is a gentle adjustment which gets your pelvis and ligaments in optimal condition for the baby to have enough room to move around. This technique has an 80-90% success rate depending on the provider. You can check out the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to learn more about this technique and find a local provider who can perform it.
Moxibustion is a technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine which involves burning dried plant materials near certain pressure points on the skin. It is thought that stimulating these pressure points may lead to increased hormonal and uterine activity, triggering greater movement for the baby in utero. If you’re interested in trying this, consult a licensed acupuncturist who can guide you through the protocol and pair it with the forward-leaning positions.
While there isn’t much scientific evidence to speak of when it comes to externally stimulating fetal movement, it can’t hurt to try – and it might be fun to play with your unborn baby. Many parents have attempted to use flashlights, play music, sing songs, or place a heating or cooling pad on their abdomen in order to encourage their baby to move one way or the other.
How Can My Doctor Help?
If you don’t see any success using these ideas, your doctor may be able to perform an external cephalic version (ECV). This is a clinical procedure commonly performed in hospital, and involves your doctor manipulating your baby by hand over your abdomen while you are closely monitored. This can be an uncomfortable procedure, but may be a good last resort to try before scheduling a Cesarean. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of an ECV and when they would consider it an indicated procedure for you and your baby.
As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before trying any meds, procedures, or hanging from the chandelier. With a bit of luck, one of these suggestions just might do the trick for you.