Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

by Birth Without Fear on October 29, 2010

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

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.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich 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:

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.

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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison DiBarto October 29, 2010 at 9:25 am

About two hours before my daughter was born at home, she turned from head down to frank breech! My doctor and midwife had never seen anything like that before, but had delivered hundreds of breech babies. We were nervous but they encouraged me to try to push her out. It took much more effort and she did need guidance from the doctor when she would get stuck, but it all went smoothly. I did have an episiotomy, which helped and I’m glad I did. She never has had any hip problems or shoulder problems. Getting adjusted, having the webster technique, and preparation (perineal massage) was probably what saved both of us! I agree, breech babies are normal!

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Sparkie October 29, 2010 at 9:36 am

I was a frank breech baby! My Mom had me without medication or augmentation of any kind. She did have to have quite a few stitches. My sister was also breech, feet first, and was also born naturally. Here’s what my Mom told me: ‘I convinced myself it was all a mental game. The sooner I got to push the sooner it would be over. Even if they told me to wait. I’d just say ‘f’ you, I’m not waiting.’ She had 4 babies without medication and relatively short labors.

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Lynnette Gallegos January 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I love your story. I was also a frank breech and I crack up at my mom’s natural birth story every time. Yours made me smile! I sometimes wonder though if being frank breech has anything to do with the hip issues I’ve had since puberty. They are always popping out. :/

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christine June 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

i was born in the “normal” position and I have always had hip and shoulder issues as well.

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Sarah Clark October 29, 2010 at 9:57 am

Another thing to remember- the new ACOG standards for vaginal birth and VBAC say that even breech births should be given TOLAC and can be delivered vaginally- so the enemy itself admits that it can be a safer alternative to C-section-

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Allison October 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

Great post! Breech is the only thing that I still have a small amount of fear about and am trying to educate myself as much as possible….thxs for the tips!

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Farrah E. October 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

My 7 week old baby was complete breech at 39w4d as confirmed by ultrasound. This is my third baby (oldest is 3 yrs, youngest is 14 months). We were planning to u/c anyway so I wasn’t really concerned. The midwife wanted to schedule a surgical time, but I flew out of the hospital and made a chiro appointment for the Webster. I said no, I wasn’t to my due date yet and I wasn’t having a c-section two days before it. I wasn’t going into labor yet for a reason. I was able to have it done twice and we all thought the baby had flipped. So 4 1/2 days past my EDD, my labor started and I had my son on 9/8/2010. I transferred to the hospital because of maternal exhaustion (2.5 hours of pushing). My son was born breech, 5 days “late”, 8lb 15.9oz and 21.5 inches long. Today he’s over close to 12 lbs at 7 weeks and we have a beautiful breastfeeding relationship.

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Farrah E. October 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

I will also add to encourage moms, I DIDN’T TEAR and I didn’t need an episiotomy! It can be done! It was reeeally painful, but so worth it!

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Radha February 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Any tips that you think helped you not tear? :)

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Bek July 26, 2011 at 9:58 am

Same here! I birthed a footling breech bub at 4.9kgs in 2.5hrs without anything more than a scratch. The best way to avoid tearing is to water birth and to listen to your body. Coached pushing, and lying on your back, are the biggest risk factors for tearing.

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Bek July 26, 2011 at 10:05 am

I also wanted to link to another great breech blog post that you all might find interesting. Written by homebirth midwife.

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Bek July 26, 2011 at 10:11 am
Kate June 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I had a surprise breech birth that went VERY smoothly! Perineal massage, waterbirth, and my midwife applying counterpressure to my perineum all helped me achieve a wonderful birth with no stitches :) I had a very small tear. No hip issues for her and no stitches for me. It can be done!

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Christi October 29, 2010 at 11:33 am

My first son was frank breech and ended up a C-section. I was going to “try” for a natural birth. Oh to know then what I know now! He was 5lbs15oz (my 2nd hospital VBAC complete w/episiotomy was 6lbs8oz) but considering my 3rd unassisted HBAC was a very healthy 9 pounder, no tearing or anything, I know I could’ve had him naturally! Be informed!!

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Lisa O'Rourke Goulet October 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm

This is a great post and I started to write a response to it, but it got so lengthy that I decided to write a blog post instead! (you’re tagged and this blog is linked in my post). If interested it is linked from my FB page http://www.facebook.com/pages/BirthMadeSimplecom-Lisa-ORourke-Goulet/135927219753246 and it’s called Vaginal Breech Birth?

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LeaG October 29, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I needed this so much today! I just found out my baby is breech but I am only 20 weeks. Though I know I do not need to worry yet, I still do. Breech is a great fear for me. Not so much that I can’t do it but that my midwife won’t. I know I need to talk to her. I’m also scheduled for another sono to check a few questionable things at about 28 weeks so hopefully by then baby will turn. But seeing this tonight will help me to sleep easier, so thank you so much!!

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Christy @ pureMotherhood February 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

LeaG-It’s completely common to have a breech baby at 20 weeks. There’s so much room in there at this point that they turn all the time. It’s really a non-issue at this point. Both my babies were ‘breech’ at my 20-wk ultrasounds but both were head down for labor and delivery. No worries!

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Lisa October 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I left this comment on the FB page and thought I would post here as well:

While I agree in theory, I have to say not every situation like this can be absolute. For my circumstances, baby was breech despite many, MANY attempts to turn him (including standing on my head, using flashlights, frozen peas, music, Hypnobabies breech turning track, Webster chiro, different positioning, pulsatilla, moxibustion, birth ball-you name it, I did it). Another factor in our decison was that we knew our baby was going to be big (all of mine have been and I was measuring far ahead, as I always do, and the u/s measured him large as well. I am quite aware of the fact that all of those things are unreliable but given all of them together, my u/s tech’s historical accuracy, and the fact that there was no reason to expect that I would all of a sudden have a small baby, I was fairly certain that this one would be big as well. Additionally, I was already past my due date with absolutely no signs of labor so who knows how big he would have gotten had I kept going). I am not fearful of big babies persay and believe they can be delivered naturally and normally without any intervention. However, all the research I did said that it was not a good idea to attempt a vaginal breech birth with a large baby, which was another factor for us. Not only that, but having also had 3 previous c-sections plus the breech baby my mid-wife risked me out at 40 weeks. I was not willing to go unassisted given my history and baby being breech.

So, given all of those factors we made the decision to schedule the surgery (I was already past my due date, by the way). I did not schedule it because I just wanted him out and the pregnancy over. I scheduled it because I wanted as much control as possible and I didn’t want nurses etc… freaking out when a 3 times scarred woman with a breech baby came in in labor. I wanted my birth calm and controlled and orderly. I wanted to schedule it at a time when I knew the people working would be well-rested (in theory, obviously you can’t guarantee this, but better than an emergency csec with a doc who has been on-call all weekend and tired nurses at the end of their shift). I also wanted to choose the best surgeon to perform the surgery. I wanted the opportunity to meet with the nurses, anesthesiologist and my OB, to give them my written birth plan and go over it and be sure I got what I wanted, rather than trying to fight for what I wanted mid-labor and them not caring because they were too freaked out about my obstetrical history and biased against me as a home-birther. I did not make my choices in a vacuum and unaware of associated risks. I educated myself, advocated for myself, fought for myself and my baby. No, it was not the ideal situation and was most certainly not what I wanted. But I made a knowledgeable and informed choice. Not every situation is the same. Some may judge me for not allowing my baby to choose his birthdate, but I did what I had to do to make the most of a difficult situation. And his was the most beautiful of all of my births, despite it being a c-section. I am completely supportive of women attempting vaginal breech births and believe in the majority of the cases-as long as both mom and birth attendants aren’t fearful about the process-that they can be safe (safer even than a csection) and successful. While I think this message needs to be shared, that breech birth does not equal automatic c-section, we also need to recognize that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that leave women with very few options, or in my case, feeling like I had NO options. That’s the sad part to me. If one person had had confidence that this would have been a safe way to birth our baby, I would not have hesitated to continue with our plans to homebirth. We need to get the message out AND we need to support women however the choose to birth their babies.

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Ayelet November 1, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I think the point is that the baby knows what position (s)he needs to be in. and that position is not always head down.

2 stories to support that: in one vaginal breech delivery, the baby had spina bifida – full bulging sack – she was saved because of her breech birth. The process for allowing vaginal breech is to have the mom wait another hour after she first feels the urge to push, this assures that there is absolutely no cervix left to snap back around baby’s neck… well because she just slipped out at that point, there was no pressure on the bulging sack and it remained in tact. The family transferred to the hospital immediately and the baby was saved.

Story 2 is not as wonderous, but still shows that trusting your body and your baby is the way to go: baby was breech and he was not descending during pushing. Finally a c/s was performed and the baby had a very short chord which was also wrapped around his neck. He couldn’t turn and he couldn’t be born.

Babies know what they need. Well written post! Excellent!

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snuffs August 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I found out my son was breech around 30 weeks. I also did everything to try and flip him, including laying with my butt and hips up in the air with headphones on my pelvis. Nothing worked, and I refused to have the hospital try to flip him after researching it. I was so looking forward to a natural birth, and I never once thought I would have to have a c-section. As the time neared, I realized he wasn’t going to flip. I cried and cried when I finally decided to schedule the c-section. I was terrified of the whole process. However, I also believe that maybe this was for a reason. What if my pelvic bones wouldn’t stretch far enough or my son would have had the chord wrapped around his neck? Going into the c-section, the shot on my back hurt and made me jump a bit, then nothing. The birth of him was as exciting and emotional as it ever could have been, and I was not one bit tired when I heard those first cries. I was crying so hard (out of happiness of course) that I could feel my numb body jiggling. Recovery was not that bad, either. Although I thought natural birth was going to be the best thing ever, afterward I realized that it probably would have hurt much more than I had expected. ;)

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Melanie November 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

Thank you for saying all of this. It was exactly what I needed to read as I prepare for our own scheduled section tomorrow due to breech twins.

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Lori November 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Oh, Melanie! Praying for you, the wisdom of your OB and excited for your beautiful babies!

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Lisa November 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

You’re welcome Melanie! I hope everything went well and you are enjoying your sweet babies right now!

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Angela April 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Thank you, I’m in a very similar situation. I was attempting a hvbac and baby won’t flip, I’ve tried everything, chiro, acupuncture, all of it. I’m only 39 weeks so yes there is still time and I am hopeful. But your last few sentences says it all “that is the sad part to me, if one person had confidence that this would be a safe way to birth our baby I would not hesitate to continue home birth.” that’s exactly what I was trying to tell my husband last night and that is the most upsetting part.

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Cherylyn October 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm

My 5th baby was a planned home birth surprise breech. Here’s the story if you’re interested: http://mamasandbabies.blogspot.com/2009/07/home-water-birth-breech-delivery-of.html

I have a special place in my heart for breech babies after that amazing birth, and I don’t consider breech a complication. I agree that it’s only a variation of normal :)

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Maeli October 31, 2010 at 1:56 am

I am thankful for this blog entry, as I have recently found out that I am pregnant with a very much ‘surprise’ baby. I have a bi-cornate uterus & a few of my babies have stayed breech, or flipped constantly from breech to vertex to breech until 35-36 weeks.

With my first baby it was not a problem, no stress, no mention of intervention. Just instructions on how to get baby to turn. Fast forward to my last pregnancy & it’s PANIC stations. I still feel sick even thinking about it :( No ‘calm’, everything was medical this & medical that. Big baby, breech at 35 weeks, everything was version at this date, or c-section at this date, no you can’t have this baby vaginally.

Baby turned vertex & was delivered vaginally, totally naturally, after a crappy stressful labour.

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carissa October 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I have just read the post about breech babies, your journey sounds just like mine with my first son, I had an ‘elective’ caeser, so I didnt even go into labour :( This alone contributed to the PPD i suffered afterwrds. 2 VBACS later though and I am healed :) GREAT post!

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A.M. November 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

My midwife is comfortable with delivering breach babies at home. She’s done it a lot of times, and with huge success. That makes me feel better, knowing that even if this baby I’m expecting in the summer is breech (I don’t have a history of it, but anything can happen, right?) I won’t be shuffled off to a hospital automatically. I don’t think breech presentation in and of itself is a complication. A complexity, maybe… but in most cases, not the emergency that a lot of people make it out to be.

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Nev November 3, 2010 at 5:10 am

Wonderful article thank you.
They made me have a c-section due to baby being Frank Breech. I didn’t want it but they insisted saying that none is trained enough to deliver her safely. :(
What I hate most is what you’re saying at the end: wait until you go into labour to be sure she is ready..well I had her at 39+2 (hospital date)/38+2 (our date)..and they originally wanted to get her out at 37 weeks. They said that if I go into labour they would have to perform an elcs… I don’t think so considering that labour can take hours and setting up the OR about 30mins.

If my next baby is breech I know more and will fight. Thank you. :)

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MartinMamma November 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm

My 2nd baby was transverse for the longest time .. he eventually did turn head down though, so LeaG, don’t worry. It was fear of mine too, b/c I was worried I would have to be at a hospital (and I did, but b/c my platelet counts were in the 70s!) and they would force me into a c-section with threats of court orders. (Horrible experience with my 1st where they threatened that when I didn’t want her getting tests. ugh)

I took a look at the breech birth with pictures and WOW .. I’m all for a mom doing that if she feels comfortable, and I would do it myself if my baby were breech, but that looked so much more painful. Wow.

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san jose chiropractor November 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Good stuff, thanks!

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mom November 13, 2010 at 11:24 pm

two of my six children were breech, not a complication at all , just something to be prepared for!

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Shannon November 15, 2010 at 11:23 pm

So happy to have found your site. I just gave birth four weeks ago to my second son and we didn’t find out he was breech until I was complete and ready to push. It ended in an emergency cesarean. I’ve blogged about my unexpected story here:http://freespiritknits.blogspot.com/2010/10/our-birth-story.html. I have to tryst that it turned out this way fur a reason, and I love that there are mama’s like you who can help. Us learn and grow. Thank you!

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Robin December 20, 2010 at 4:52 pm

thank you for this post. May we repost on the CBB site? Also wondering where that stunning image at the top came from, it is so beautiful it brought me to tears.
blessings
Robin
CBB Co-Founder

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Mrs. BWF December 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

CBB? Sorry, not sure what that is. I googled and found it, now I can’t remember. Sorry. Awesome pic though, huh? You can use it, just have a link sending ppl to the post. :)

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mamapoekie December 21, 2010 at 10:23 am

Magnificent post. Added to my bookmarks and will be sharing on Sunday Surf

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Rachel January 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm

With my daughter I went to see a midwife for one appointment. She told me that my baby was breech and gave me lots of tips to turn her so I wouldn’t have to get a C…I was only 24 weeks. My opinion has always been the baby will turn when and if the baby wants to turn and anything I do will not change that. When I returned to my regular OB he said pretty much the same thing. I then asked him if he would allow me to give birth vaginally…there was the most perplexed look on his face as he replied, “Why wouldn’t I?” My point is it matters more of who you see as a provider more then where you see them. The CNM was willing to allow her partner to do a C where my OB was not.

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Megan February 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I was devestated to find out my twins were both breech and would have to be delivered by c-section. I was very lucky that my babies knew better and were both born safely (vaginally) within 90minutes of my waters breaking.

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Doula Brandi February 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Fantastic info! I have yet to see a breech, but i trust that baby knows where and how it should be positioned.

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Theresa February 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I might disagree that the baby wants to be breech. Perhaps for some babes, but after learning a bit about the shape of the uterus and pelvic adjustments, I imagine there might have been a lot less breech babies when we were walking and squatting for a living rather than sitting at a desk with out spines all mangled. *sits up straight*

My baby turned breech one day when I lied in bed for too long in a weird position. His new position hurt me and I can’t imagine how it couldn’t have been painful for him. The midwife confirmed he was breech, and I had to work day and night to get him back in a proper position.

I swear he threatens to turn again whenever I sit at my desk too long (starts to squirm in a particular way and move into positions that hurt). I think he is trying to get comfortable (when I am being irresponsible with my body) and this puts him at risk of flipping himself. If I walk everyday and squat lots, he doesn’t move in the same way.

That’s my theory anyway!

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Laura September 9, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I am a bartender and am on my feet all the time. Running around and squatting have been a part of my entire pregnancy until the last couple weeks when I stopped working. My baby is breech and I am 38 weeks, so obviously babies are not breech because people have desk jobs or sit more than others.

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Shelley Dobbin February 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm

This is such a BEAUTIFUL article! It truly is! I had tears of joy reading it!
Our son was breech. I was advised to have a C-Section after a painful attempt to try turn the baby around! (ECV- External Cephalic Version). The procedure to try turn the baby felt so un-natural and I would never do it again!
I REFUSED the C-Section! I wanted to at least give a vaginal breech delivery a try! (I was prepared for an emergency Section, but I believed there was no need to interfere with what my body and baby knew what to do).
I had an AMAZING vaginal breech birth!! :)
It frustrated me that lots of my friends keep saying “How did you do that!? You poor thing! Bum first, that must have been so painful!”
Let me say, it was no more painful than the 2 head-first babies I have birthed,. In fact, my breech birth was great. I remained on my hands and knees whilst birthing and this helped a great deal! No tearing which I believe was due to my confidence as well as the fact that I was on my hands and knees. I have birthed a baby on my back before, and WOULD NEVER birth on my back again!

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Heather February 15, 2011 at 2:51 am

I also could tell something was different with my daughter’s positioning, and at 36 weeks I discovered that she was frank breech. My husband and I did everything – 3x weekly chiropractic appointments for Webster technique, moxibustion, acupuncture, massage therapy, visualization, meditation, prayer, inversion, music, frozen foods on my belly, you name it – but my little girl decided she wanted to stay close to my heart. :-)

I had a wonderful midwife and perinatologist – they encouraged me to decline an EC version because of the risks – and they assured me that breech was just a variation of normal and that I should let my body and baby do whatever they needed to do. I went into labor on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and by late Thanksgiving evening I went to the hospital. Once my water broke I had lots of meconium staining – another variation of normal with breech presentation! – and by about 4am on Friday I requested an epidural, the worst decision I could have made. My midwife kept it turned on for four hours and let me progress from a 4 to an 8, then decided to turn it off around 7:30am. I am forever grateful to her for that – she knew better than I did that I needed to be able to feel this baby come out!

The delivery, about four hours after the epidural was turned off, was a circus – because I was in a hospital, there were all sorts of pediatric teams ready and waiting for the “worst” – all in all there were close to 15 people in the room not related to me. I’m also pretty certain that every nurse on staff that morning was in my room – several came in just to watch, because they had never seen a breech delivery before. My husband, mother, and sister cheered me on, and my midwife was not of the persuasion that you shouldn’t touch a breech baby during delivery (I knew this going into it – both of the midwives in my practice have delivered several breech babies and they’ve always assisted rather than following the “hands off” method), so she and I worked together to get my little one out. After an hour and a half of pushing, my beautiful little girl joined us on this side of the world, beautiful, screaming (which thankfully sent the respiratory team right out of my room – lol), and healthy as any baby could be. I tore quite a bit – top and bottom – and required many stitches. My midwife does not do episiotomies, and I healed completely in a matter of about two weeks from the tearing. I’ll take a little tearing over a C-section any day!! :-)

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Antonella April 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I’m in nursing school and my OB instructor actually taught us that breech births can be done vaginally except for transverse. Breech is actually one of the things I was worried about with my last baby…..he was huge and didn’t go head down until later in the pregnancy, but I def would have given a breech birth a shot, I’m not going to lie though, it does scare me a little still, even after seeing pics and videos of very nice breech births.

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Jenny April 26, 2011 at 7:52 am

I had a planned homebirth surprise footling breech with no tearing one month ago. The cord was wrapped twice around his neck. Had we known and not been able to turn him, my midwife would have recommended hospital section. How glad I am we didn’t know! He got 9/10 APGAR scores and seems perfect. My labor was painful and scary, but I’m so thankful for my birth team and my body!

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Kimrose April 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Wow – I WISH I’d read stuff like this before my first birth – in 2005 I had a long unmedicated labor and had started pushing when the “resident-on-call” yelled “STOP PUSHING, THAT’S NOT A HEAD!” Yup. :( It had been a very tough all-back labor and I couldn’t even speak as I tried *not to push* him out :( They said “We know this isn’t what you wanted, but we have to get the baby out NOW!” They did say he was having decels somewhere in there – but essentially THE reason for my emergency cesarean – where they pushed him back up the birth canal and left me w/a T incision on my uterus b/c he was so stuck – was b/c they had NO IDEA what to do w/a breech delivery except a cesarean. Breech = cesarean in their world. It was a devastating experience. They missed my first son being breech even w/clues – previous apt.s’ couldn’t “confirm position” and had an ultrasound scheduled for the day after I naturally went into labor. – and they DID an ultrasound while I was far along in labor – my son had “breech legs” for weeks – and was definitely in that position for some time. I would have ABSOLUTELY chosen to continue and push him out. My only consolation is that it *could* have been worse to deliver vaginally attended by two residents that were terrified and hadn’t a clue. :( Everyone should educate themselves and their partners/support on breech births “just in case” – especially if like me, you find out at literally the last second. The only healing I *finally* got was this January when I VBAC’d unmedicated – though I was told I could never have a vaginal birth.

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Victoria April 27, 2011 at 8:56 am

Thanks for this terrific blog. I just posted a link to it from my Birthing From Within Westchester facebook page. You offer an optimistic and fresh perspective about breech babies that all parents-to-be should read.

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MEB July 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

The thing that concerns me about all these techniques to turn a breech (whether manual or mental) are all the real reasons the fetus has for not doing so. One of the situations that comes to mind is a short and/or wrapped cord, particularly when the placenta is attached low. There are other reasons that the fetus would be best left alone but you get the idea. I think labor and birth is when acceptance and trust is absolutely crucial, especially when nothing is wrong. This is when John Denver’s lyrics to “Sweet Surrender” would come in handy. Trust those instincts you have because you most certainly have them. :)

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m July 3, 2011 at 3:18 am

my twins were both breech. i was told i was lucky nothing went wrong. and i was *so* lucky, but not really much more than any of who give birth to a live baby…..

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Miriam Farnam July 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

So did you have a care provider that supported you delivering twin breech vaginally? My sil is about to schedule a c-section because here babies are breech. I know she probably won’t want to “risk” delivering them vaginally, but I am curious if this can be done or if it’s just her doc that is saying no.

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Katharine July 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm

What if baby is transverse? My first was and I had a csection. I want a VBAC this time but baby is transverse and shows no sign of turning despite best efforts. I’m only 25 weeks right now.

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Tina July 26, 2011 at 11:19 am

Just wanted to add a tiny snippet of knowledge to your great links….there is another chiropractic technique for turning breech babies called the Bagnell technique. It includes an adjustment of the pubic bones. In my practice, the ones that don’t turn easily with Webster, I add in Dr. Bagnell’s suggested adjustments, and have had great success! The one thing I tell ALL my pregnant patients–the goal is to have a healthy baby. The rest is details–know what you want, but don’t be traumatized if that has to change.

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K August 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I am glad for this article and love that you’ve shared it but I have to point out that in some states, such as WI where I live, a breech baby does indeed mean a C-section. Period. I was lucky enough to be able to get my breech baby turned with 2 Webster method chiropractic adjustments at 38weeks, but even with a midwife who herself was unafraid of breech WI LAW says the mother or caregiver does not get to choose a trial of labor.

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Mrs. BWF August 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I understand that in some states midwives are not allowed to attend breech births at home. I am not sure if the law also states that about OB’s. I do not think the law can tell the woman that it is illegal to birth her breech baby vaginally, but they do sure make it hard to get any kind of support in doing so.

That is so great you had success with Webster! :)

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Sandra August 12, 2011 at 7:53 am

Unfortunately my breech baby didn’t turn and she was delivered via C-section. The attending doctor didn’t want to give a vaginal delivery a try so I had no choice. I was scared and alone and somehow taken by surprise because the labor started and progressed quickly and I knew that the medical team has to be confident and not afraid of breech births for it to be safe. So I had a C-section and I still can’t get over it (it’s been 5 months). I think I will be so afraid to become pregnant again because I don’t want to go through the same thing again. :(

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Mrs. BWF August 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

(((hugs)) mama. I’m sorry your experience was difficult. I too had a c/s for a breech baby, but it wasn’t rushed and the Dr. was very respectful of all my other wishes. Give yourself time mama to process and heal emotionally and physically.

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Chelsea August 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Just over two months ago I had a surprise breech homebirth (the homebirth was planned — we didn’t know he was breech). I was 9cm before my midwife was certain that he was feet first. We decided to stay and have him at home… I trusted my body and my baby and thought of breech as a variation of normal. But my baby’s arms were above his head and crossed behind his neck. My midwives couldn’t sweep his arms fast enough. He died intrapartum.

I’ll never know if things would have been different in a hospital but I can’t help but feel at least partially to blame for my baby’s death. I’m still an advocate of homebirth but I certainly wish I would have known he was breech before I went into labor and that I had had more time to decide what to do.

For all of the mamas who wish they hadn’t had a C-section, maybe don’t be so hard on yourself. We can never be certain about the outcome of our choices.

You can read my birth story here: http://twosimplehappenings.blogspot.com/p/juliens-story_16.html

Much love & light to all.

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Mrs. BWF August 19, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I am so sorry that happened Chelsea. :(

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Carla September 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I’m am so sorry to hear your story Chelsea. :(

My baby was frank breech and i was devastated that i could not deliver naturally. (In South Africa it is nearly impossible to find a private ob/gyn that will deliver a breech baby vaginally.)
When my baby was born via c-section, we discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly twice around his neck. If i insisted on delivering naturally, my baby would not be here now.

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Patricia W November 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I wish I had seen this when I was pregnant with DD#1. It would have made her birth alot easier on me. But then again, I wouldn’t have my VBAC babies. They still would have been vaginal births, but as VBACs, they were more empowering births.

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Vanessa November 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Your first birth sounds so much like mine. Around 7 mos. I asked about his position and the midwife (at an ob practice) said he’d switch. I tried acupuncture, chiropractic care, and sadly, we did a version – unsuccessful. Before the c-sect, I was never given another option and too naive to look for another myself, they did another u/s and saw he was footling breech.

The c-section itself wasn’t traumatic for me…it was the recovery. The LONG recovery. I’m not the same body I was.

I’ve had a second child. A beautiful baby girl born at home. She’s 4 months old now. What a different, empowering experience. Your blog helped educate me. My doula turned me on to it. So keep up the good work. You are doing wonderful things.

For other mamas out there…educate yourself. Make your own decisions with your partner and don’t just assume your doctor/midwife’s suggestion is Law. In the end, do what you and your partner feel is right for your family.

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Tristan January 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for this. It helps to have a little well-worded insight to back up why I feel sad when (especially first-time) moms who aren’t but 36wks along are told their baby is breech and don’t even get out of the appointment without scheduling a C-Section. It’s sad that these woman aren’t even given a choice, much less a chance. As if “breech” is synonymous with “doomed unless intervened.” Some of those people I’m sure would have been fine with scheduled C-Section anyway, but they should still be given the CHOICE by a source they trust (which should be their care provider…though we know that is not always the case).

Totally bookmarking this. You and your community continue to rock. <3

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Heather March 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I am 29 weeks today and my daughter is frank breech at the moment..I am hoping that she will turn at the last minute, and it does make me a little nervous to think about delivering her that way, but I would rather try then have a c-section..thank you for this it was helpful!

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Karrie June 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I had a “gentle cesarean” 5 weeks ago because my second son was breech. It was a difficult thing to come to terms with (see blog!) because I KNEW he was just a variation of normal. However delivering vaginal breech babies has become a lost art, another disappointing thing about birthing in America. It’s one thing to know that the can be birthed vaginally, it’s another entirely to find an OB or midwife willing to do that (depending on where you live).
While I would have preferred to deliver him vaginally, the gentle cesarean was the next best thing.

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Sara June 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I had my third baby via C-section because she was breech. I was hoping for a natural water birth so I was devastated when I found out. I really wanted to have the courage to deliver her naturally, but my fate depended on what doctor was on at the time I went into labour and if they were OK with letting me deliver naturally. Regardless, I was never going to be able to have the birth I was hoping for in hospital (and home births are not supported by the government in Australia so you have to hire a private midwife which costs big $$). The ironic thing is, although doctors might say that C-sections are less of a risk for breech presentation, my daughter ended up with a graze on her back from the incision! Also, I was led to believe that a natural deliver of a breech baby may result in hip problems, but it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the way the baby is delivered. It’s the position they maintain in the womb as a breech baby that can cause problems. I agree with Karrie that the main issue is that breech delivery is becoming a lost art because it is not practiced enough.

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Shannon July 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

I just found out my little peanut (37 weeks), is breech just like my first. I asked my doctor why my kids insist on being the wrong way, and she said it may have something to do with the shape of my pelvis. I was completely caught off guard. My husband and I took Bradley classes and were planning on trying for a natural VBAC. I was so distraught after my firstborns birth ending in an emergency c-section, and was elated to try to this the “way it was meant to be”. I am now scheduled for a c-section in 2 weeks. I am disappointed, but not even sure if I have the strength and courage to try it naturally now, even if she does flip (am trying Webster technique today). I do not want to go through the horror of getting to 9cm again and having to be rushed down for a c-section because I can’t push her out. I am hoping I can come to peace with everything before surgery, so I can enjoy my precious baby and move forward. It makes me nervous not knowing what is going on in her world, and can only hope and pray she is not tangled up in there and is comfortable. My firstborn came out doing the splits, she was obviously breech for a long time (and how it was never caught by my OB is beyond me). I am concerned that this one is in the same situation and already being in there 2 weeks longer is going to have severe hip dysplasia. I have 2 more weeks to wait.

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Kathy August 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm

My first child was a frank breech. they attempted an ecv 10 days prior to due date (dumb idea since I was somewhat low on amniotic fluid) when it was unsuccessful, the newbie doc suggested an immediate c-sec. I said hey didn’t come here today to have a baby. so I waited until my due date, found a new more experienced doc; oh yea btw we also moved 1 1/2 hrs away 1 mo before my due date. I went into labor naturally,didn’t go to the hospital until I was 6cm dilated and fully effaced, 2hrs and 45 min later (45 min of pushing) out came my beautiful and stubborn (she is to this day) baby girl 7# 1oz…did have an episiotomy, no epidural, I did request a local numbing agent when the doc started stitching me up w/o anything (I guess she really thought I was serious about this whole natural thing.)

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Daniella September 8, 2012 at 11:43 am

I was diagnosed at 28 weeks with Eclampsia. At 36 weeks I was starting induction, and when I finally 3cm my son Cooper decided he was going to flip and go breech. At my ultrasound he showed to be complete breech! We had to wait another week, and on the Thursday my doctor was going to try and turn him he flipped on his own! I was walking from one room to the other (which is probably at the most 8 ft.) and I didn’t feel a thing! I had him naturally that day 8 hours later!

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Kathleen Neely September 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Mama’s dont feel bad about the C sections, I was camping with my youngest son in the Midwest, Near Buffalo Bills Ranch, We went for breakfast at a local restaurant and sat down next to a Cowboy Veterinarian, who informed us that the night before ( while we were Freezing in our tent) He had performed a C section on a Cow. We are not alone ladies LOL

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Tanya Curtis September 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I couldn’t find a mid-wife, doctor, doula, anyone who would deliver my breech v bac baby. Is there such a person. I am told that after 2 breech births, not in succession, I would more than likely have another breech baby and even if it were head down I wouldn’t be able to have a v-bac. Is this true?

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