Common Pregnancy Concerns – Breech Baby
What is breech?
A breech position means that your baby is head up, bum down inside your belly rather than in the ‘ready to go’ birth position of head down, bum up. Don’t worry though. While about a third of babies are breech at around 30 weeks, only about 3 in 100 are still breech at term. Which means most babies turn around and find the exit on their own!
According to Pregnancy, Baby & Birth, it is often unknown why babies are breech. Sometimes it is because:
There is too much or too little amniotic fluid around the baby
Umbilical cord length
Multiple pregnancy, such as where one twin is breech
The mother’s uterus is an irregular size or shape.
It’s reassuring to know that breech babies are completely normal.
What about breech births?
If your breech baby can’t be turned, your midwife or obstetrician will talk to you about options for your baby’s birth. Breech births can come with extra complications and risks, according to Instant Consult Doctor Kenneth Moroney, who has delivered over 2000 babies.
“Breech babies are perfectly normal, we just need to take more precautions as there is a higher potential risk”. Dr Kenneth Moroney
Sometimes doctors will support natural breech births and other times recommend a caesarean. It will depend on your circumstances and is all about delivering your baby safely. Just remember, a healthy birth is best.
Can my breech baby be turned around?
Remember that the easiest way to turn your baby is to give them time. Most babies will turn on their own before birth. Babies often turn at night when you are asleep and relaxed in a reclining position. So the answer is absolutely yes but it can be very much a waiting game.
What is an ECV? How can it be used to turn a breech baby?
If your baby is still breech closer to your due date, your doctor may suggest trying to turn your baby around. The most common medical intervention is external cephalic version (ECV).
“There are a lot of doctors who have success turning the baby via ECV, avoiding a caesarean,” Dr Moroney says.
It might sound complicated but basically means that your obstetrician places their hands on your belly and tries to move your baby into the head down position. An ECV usually takes place in a hospital. You are given medicine to help your uterus relax and your baby is monitored on an ultrasound.
What can I try at home at help turn a breech baby?
There are also natural methods some mums try to encourage their breech baby to turn. Most are about trying to use gravity to get your baby’s bum up out of your pelvis to help them turn. Some mums try swimming, because they can relax and recline in the water to try and help their baby move positions. Others try gently gyrating their hips in a belly dancing like move.
Some mums also try yoga positions like dolphin’s pose, downward dog, child’s pose, supported bridge and cat cow pose. All are aimed at giving your baby the room and some encouragement to turn around!
Spending time upside down is another way of trying to turn a breech baby. Perhaps not the most elegant position when you are heavily pregnant! Doing handstands in a pool is one way to get into an upside down position – and hopefully get your baby out of theirs!
Remember to always check what is safe for you and your baby with your care provider.
What about moxibustion? Will it help turn my breech baby?
Mums sometimes try chiropractic's or acupuncture to encourage their baby to turn. Some acupuncturists also offer moxibustion. Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner Amie Akehurst says that moxibustion is worth a try when baby won’t budge.
“Moxibustion has been used in China for over 2000 years and is a non-invasive, safe alternative to other methods when used by a qualified practitioner,” Amie says.
This traditional Chinese medicine involves burning a herb for 15 to 20 minutes near the top of the fifth toe to induce a warming sensation. Research suggests it can stimulate the production of maternal hormones, placental oestrogen and prostaglandin, which encourages the lining of the uterus to contract and stimulates foetal activity.
If you’re keen to get your breech baby to turn you might like to research this option more – you will know whats right for you.
Where to from here with a breech baby on board?
For now you hopefully have a few weeks to try and shift that baby head down. If baby remains stubborn your healthcare provider may discuss your birth options with you. Some doctors will allow you to attempt a breech vaginal delivery while others may steer you towards a c-section.
There are many variables in this decision and your doctor will explain them all to you. Always remember that a safe delivery is the best. Until that day comes, good luck in turning your baby!