With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.
At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.
I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.
Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride.
OK, I know that if you are a birth advocate like me, you are completely cringing by now. Tell me about it. If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.
So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?
Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.
Which breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.
- Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
- Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
- Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.
There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:
- Chiropractic adjustments and the Webster Technique
- Spinning babies
- Playing music low on the belly and placing frozen peas on top of your belly. Fun things that won’t hurt any, so why not try?
- Visualize, meditate and pray (this is more powerful than most people realize).
- Hire a care provider who is comfortable and knows what to do (and not to do) for breech births.
- Acceptance and Faith (your baby knows exactly what (s)he is doing).
Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.
- Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
- Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
- Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
- When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
- Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
- Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
- Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
- Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one. Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
- If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!
A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation. Breech babies do have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.