Breech Babies

It is normal around 36 weeks to have an appointment with your pregnancy clinic for a general check-up. It is at this appointment that your caregivers will check the ‘lie’ of your baby. So what happens if your little one is in a breech position (feet down)? How do you get your baby to turn on its own? Read on to find out.

The first thing you should note is that some babies can be born safely in the breech position. In fact, breech births occur as regularly as 1 in 25 full term births or 4%. And some breech babies turn during labour.

There are some amazing midwives out there who support breech births. So, it is not the be-all and end-all if your baby is in the breech position.

Don’t be afraid to check is your caregivers’ (especially if it is a hospital) policy on breech births. Some hospitals will not attempt to turn a baby (External Cephalic Version), and will schedule you in for a Caesarean-section. Others will attempt to turn the baby but if the baby doesn’t turn then recommend a Caesarean-section. And, some again will allow you to attempt to vaginally birth a breech baby.

But be forewarned, fear mongering, panic and feeling overwhelmed is common when some caregivers are talking to you about your breech baby. This highlights the importance of education and knowledge.

Variations of the breech presentation

There are variations of the breech presentation. Note that in all of the following positions, the baby’s bottom is in the lower part of the uterus and the baby’s head is under the mother’s breasts.

  • Complete breech will have the baby’s knees tucked into the chest, ankles are generally crossed at the buttocks
  • Incomplete breech is a similar position to the complete breech position but with one leg extended and the foot up around the baby’s ear
  • Frank breech both legs are extended and the feet may be around the baby’s ears or in front of the baby’s face. The baby’s bottom is generally at the entrance to the birth canal.
  • Footling breech is where one, or both, of the baby’s feet, are at the entrance to the birth canal and may be the first part of the baby born.

Check out our Pinterest page for pictures of the different presentations of breech babies.

Why does it occur?

Today’s society affects the way our bodies are, we sit a lot, exercise less, cross legs or ankles and this all affects the way our bodies and our pelvis tilts. Babies end up in their position as a result of all of the ligaments and muscles surrounding the uterus. In addition, factors that cause the baby to stay in the breech position include:

  • where the uterus has too much or too little amniotic fluid causing an inability in the baby’s ability to move
  • where it is a multiple pregnancy
  • premature birth
  • where there is insufficient intrauterine space available for the baby to turn, perhaps due to fibroids, an unusually shaped uterus or placenta previa

Turning a breech baby

Medical Options

A breech baby can be turned medically by either External Cephalic Version or chiropractic care.

Chinese medicine

It has also been suggested that a breech baby can be turned by acupuncture and moxibustion. Moxibustion (a type of Chinese medicine which involves burning a herb close to the skin) to the acupuncture point Bladder 67 (BL67) (Chinese name Zhiyin).  This is located at the tip of the fifth toe and has been proposed as a way of correcting breech presentation. However, a review undertaken by the Cochrane Institute of clinical trails of moxibustion found limited evidence to support the use of moxibustion for correcting breech presentation. You can read the full report here.

Home remedies

Alternatively, you can try some home remedies. Techniques such as:

  • having your head on the floor and your knees slightly apart and elevated (perhaps on the couch)
  • not squatting while your baby is in the breech or posterior position as it may cause your baby’s bottom to engage in your pelvis making it harder for them to turn. You’d prefer that he or she is floating about in your womb able to turn.

A well-known resource for turning breech babies is Spinning Babies (check out the breech tilt here).

When all else fails

At the end of the day, focus on having the healthiest, most positive experience possible rather than a ‘natural birth’. You need to do what is right for you and your body. And if that is working towards a natural birth then great. But if that’s changing your approach for the good of you and your baby, then so be it. All you need to do is be well informed. There is no judgment here.

Hi! Natural Birth and Motherhood is about empowering women who are going through the stages of pregnancy, birth, or motherhood.  Find out more useful information on related topics by clicking on the Blog button below.

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