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Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

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 and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

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 or cesarean. Breech babies 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.

Breech Baby Turned with Webster Technique

Breech Baby Turned with Webster Technique

With my first son I had extremely high blood pressure and had to be induced which ended up in an epidural and ventouse (vacuum) delivery with tubes coming out of everywhere.  It was very medical and my son was taken to NICU immediately because of birth trauma. It was extremely difficult to be away from him for the first two days, it felt like forever and it felt like no one in the hospital trusted my husband and I with him. When we got pregnant with my second son, we wanted a less medicated birth with no interventions. We tried hard for this the first time but my baby’s and mine’s health was put at risk so it wasn’t so successful. We still used our hypno knowledge and this helped us to keep calm when things seemed out of our control.

I found out at 32 weeks that my baby was in a breech position and everyone seemed to be panicking about it except for me. So trying to avoid an ECV I tried many natural things but chiropractic, in particular the Webster technique seemed to work wonders, bub was head down by 36 weeks (which I know could have happened anyway). I will never be able to repay my chiropractor, I truly believe she helped me have an easier, faster labor. I ended up having my waters broken by choice and had the most amazing midwife to support me and my husband through the early part of the day. She truly went above and beyond. I credit her for me not having any other interventions. She let me walk around and be active rather than adhering to hospital policy of monitoring every 2 hours on the CTG. I was told by my OB that if no progress had been made after four hours that I would have to have the IV. Which I was dreading because I had this with my first. Four hours passed quickly (after an embarrassing water breaking episode in the hospital cafe bathroom) and my OB returned to see how I was going, contractions had really only started about ten minutes before she walked in but she was incredibly supportive which is so unusual for a doctor. Especially at a private hospital. She was happy to let me continue without the IV something which both myself and the midwife were stunned to hear!

I continued around the birth suite, using the shower and tens machine (not at the same time) as pain relief. It was working wonderfully. I had been in the shower for what felt like ten minutes but apparently it was over an hour. I felt like I needed to push, so I started pushing. The midwife checked and said she thought she could see something but wanted to get a better look. Seeing how I was getting out of the shower anyway, she asked if she could check me on the bed. Which I was happy to do at that stage. I was only 8 cm when she checked, but she called my OB. I couldn’t help the pushing, it just felt natural and so good to help with the pain!

When my OB arrived she checked me again (I managed to only get checked twice while in active labor – a huge difference to every hour or so with my first) and was concerned that bub was posterior and was pushing on my cervix in a way that may have torn it. She asked if I was ok to try the gas and I obliged as I wanted to avoid stitches. She got me on all fours for half an hour until she was confident bub had turned back to anterior. I didn’t stop pushing this whole time, but apparently my pushes were less intense, the gas was my best friend. To the point that when it was time to push for real, the midwife wanted to take it off me.  But I wouldn’t let her, I was later informed they just turned it off. I now believe in mind over matter because whatever was in that mask was heaven!

I was so amazed to feel the pressure and the ring of fire this time around as I missed out with my first birth.  After just three pushes, and with the incredible guidance from my amazing OB, baby London was handed to me between my legs. I just looked at him stunned that I had just delivered him in under 6 hours, a short labor compared to my first. I remember everyone telling me to pick him up but I just replied with someone take him because I can’t hold myself up anymore, I don’t want to fall on him!

I cannot tell you how in awe I was that I had just managed to have such a healing birth. It was everything I wished my first labor was, I am so honored to be the mother to two beautiful little boys.

Thank you to you Birth Without Fear and your community for providing such beautiful support to pregnant women and parents. It surely helped me with my decision making and gave me the confidence to have a birth photographer present. I would also like to thank Kacey from Jae Photography for doing such a brilliant job in capturing this amazing day for us, I will cherish these photographs forever.


How the Webster Technique Can Help You Birth Without Fear

How the Webster Technique Can Help You Birth Without Fear

For many women, pregnancy can be a very uncomfortable experience. First, there are the initial hormonal changes and morning sickness; the feeling of being on an emotional roller-coaster for no good reason whatsoever and the unusual food cravings at all hours of the day (such as early, early morning Jack-in-the-Box taco runs for those husbands keeping track).

Next come the physical changes. As the baby develops and grows inside the womb, so does the momma’s belly. This expansion of the belly is an unavoidable change, part of the territory that comes with growing a baby. But oftentimes, this territory is accompanied by an alteration in spinal and pelvic alignment. This structural alteration, or misalignment, is often very uncomfortable and even painful as the pregnancy progresses.

One of the hormones that runs wild through a pregnant momma’s body is relaxin. Relaxin helps ligaments loosen up, especially those in the pelvic area, to accomodate the expansion of the growing baby and uterus. However, relaxin can be a double-edged sword. While it helps those bones shift in order to make way for the baby, the ligament laxity can make those pelvic bones very unstable in their position, allowing them to misalign in a very painful way. Couple this with the fact that a pregnant woman’s lumbar spinal curvature can increase as the size and weight of the belly increase (a temporary, forced hyperlordosis so as to speak), and you have the recipe for a very painful, very unhappy pregnancy. Letting go of fears surrounding labor are hard to do when you are pregnant, in pain, and unhappy about it.

This is where Chiropractic comes into play.

In Chiropractic, the two most important parts of the spine to pay attention to, more than any other areas, are the very top and very bottom of the spine. At the top is the atlas, or C1 vertebra. Proper position of this vertebra is important because of its close proximity to the brain stem, as well as its ability to create a domino effect of spinal misalignment from the top all the way down to the bottom where the pelvis and sacrum are. Proper alignment of the atlas is paramount for a healthy, properly aligned spine.

At the bottom of the spine is the pelvis and sacrum. The pelvis consists of six bones, three on each side: the ilium on the front, back, and side, the pubis in the lower front, and the ischium on the bottom.

ilium, ischium, pubis

Along with the sacrum and the elaborate network of ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves attached and intertwined within this area, one can start to imagine the complications that can arise for a pregnant woman with an improperly aligned pelvis, one of those being a baby in a breech position late in the pregnancy.

(As a side note, having a baby in a breech position does not necessarily mean you are doomed to have an inevitable c-section, but a baby with its head down will make life a lot easier for the momma and the baby during labor.)

Because of the elaborate setup of the pelvis and sacrum, they move as one most of the time. When one ilium has rocked back into a posterior misalignment, the opposite side is, by default, rocked forward. This can cause the sacrum to tilt posterior one way or the other, often causing pain and/or tightness in the opposite leg. Because of all this tilting and torquing of the pelvic bones, the birth canal will narrow, possibly complicating the baby’s ability to birth naturally.

Any combination of misalignments of these bones will contribute to troublesome, or even severe, lower back pain for a pregnant woman, and set the stage for a painful, long labor full of interventions that may result in an eventual c-section, a major surgery few women look forward to unless absolutely necessary.

Proper chiropractic care, in and of itself, is very beneficial for the pregnant mother. A properly aligned pelvis and sacrum will do wonders in avoiding any of the unfavorable scenarios previously mentioned. Properly aligned pelvic bones help the pelvic muscles stay loose, allowing the network of nerves within the pelvic area to transmit important messages from the nervous system to their intended destinations without interference.

round ligament painThe Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique, or simply the Webster Technique, takes it one step further. Dr. Larry Webster developed a chiropractic technique that balances the pelvis properly, while also reducing the stress to the ligaments that support the uterus, more specifically the round ligaments. Dr. Webster developed this technique after watching his own daughter suffer through a long, painful labor with a baby in the breech position.

The round ligaments act to hold the uterus in suspension within the abdomen. However, as the pregnancy goes on, these round ligaments can become thin and tight like a rubber band pulled to tension, causing sharp, spastic pains and restricting the space in which the baby has to maneuver within the womb. Restriction of this movement often causes a baby to stay in a breech position beyond 37 weeks. This can be a very disconcerting feeling to many women, as we know from firsthand experience. Once the pelvis and sacrum are properly aligned, the Webster Technique focuses on relieving the tightness in the round ligaments. This allows the baby to shift comfortably and freely within the womb so that he or she may get into proper position for his or her big journey to the outside world.

For more information on the Webster Technique, click here. If you are pregnant, the time to get under chiropractic care is yesterday. Chiropractic, including the Webster Technique, will stack the cards in favor of you and your growing baby.

And with all the fears the mainstream media, hospitals, AMA, and insurance companies have instilled in our society about childbirth, you need a stacked deck to stare down those fears with full faith and confidence in yourself, your body, and your baby.

How To Avoid An Unnecessary Cesarean Section

How To Avoid An Unnecessary Cesarean Section

Our BWF Community is a diverse group of women with different birthing experiences. Midwives, doulas, mothers who have birthed only at home, others who have had cesareans, VBAC’s, natural or medicated hospital births. Women have valuable information and support to offer one another.

cesarean birth

I recently asked the BWF Mamas how to avoid a c-section and here are the top answers. Research them more and decide what will help you get the birth that is best for you and your baby!

  • Stay home (number one answer)
  • Avoid an induction
  • No AROM…artificial rupture of membranes
  • Hire a doula
  • Research and know your rights
  • Do not consent unnecessarily to interventions such as pitocin, constant monitoring, and epidural.
  • Take childbirth education classes…Bradley, Hypnobirthing, Birthing From Within, etc
  • Know what you want and do not waiver or compromise (of course unless baby or mom needs help)
  • Be patient
  • Trust yourself, your body, your baby and birth
  • Ask your doctor what their cesarean section rate is. According to WHO it should be lower than 15%
  • Ask your midwife what her transfer rate is and why they were necessary.
  • Find an OB or midwife who supports your choices (can switch at anytime)
  • See a chiropractor who can do Webster Technique to help optimize position of baby. Can find one here.

“Caesarean section without medical indication increases risk of short-term adverse outcomes for mothers. Caesarean section is one of the most commonly performed surgical operations in the world today. However, in a growing number of cases worldwide, caesarean section is being performed without any medical need. The rising number of such deliveries suggests that both health-care workers and their clients perceive the operation to be free from serious risks.” ~World Health Organization

cesarean birth rates
Map created by Jessica Turon, from the Unnecessarean.

{If you find yourself needing a cesarean, read about a gentle cesarean approach here and a family centered cesarean birth plan here}

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