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Why Breech Isn’t the End of the World

lindseymathews March 20, 2013
whybreechImage by Frank de Kleine

By Lindsey, Contributing Writer

You’re pregnant, and your baby is breech. Breathe. It’s not the end of the world.

As babies develop and grow, they freely move around inside a woman’s belly. Up until about 30- 32 weeks, the baby is swimming all throughout the mother’s belly. By about the 32nd week in pregnancy, the baby has grown, and the space in which the baby moves around has become limited; therefore, the baby doesn’t move as much. At around 31-32 weeks of pregnancy, one in three babies present as breech. By birth, that percentage diminishes drastically to 3-4%.

A lost skill

The problem with our modern society is that there are very few professionals that are skilled in breech delivery. Therefore, it makes having a vaginal breech birth very difficult to carry out. For instance, there are only two doctors in the Los Angeles area that are open to delivering vaginal breech births. One delivers in the hospital and the other delivers at home births.

Breech delivery is no longer taught as a skill in medical schools in the United States. Even thoughDr. Karin Blakemore, of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, said, “There are well-known criteria for a safe vaginal breech birth,” the real negative tone-setter for the breech situation came from the Term Breech Trial.

This study, published in 2000, concluded that it’s better for a women to have a planned cesarean than a vaginal breech birth. This study was conducted only by ObGyns in a hospital setting. There were no midwives, no home births, and far too much drug and machine intervention. The women were wired up and flat on their back in a bed. Not a desired situation to give birth if you ask me.

Why do babies turn breech?

About 96%-99% of babies turn head down prior to birth. That percentage increases when just looking at full term babies. When a baby does not turn head on his or her own, the reason is placed in one of two categories- structural or functional.

Structural reasons could be things like uterine malformations, fibroids, fetal abnormalities, multiple births, or even the location of the placenta.

Functional causes can include fixated lumbar spine and/or sacroiliac joints, hypertonic hip flexors and gluteus muscles that are not allowing the pelvis to expand naturally, and any other musculoskeletal issue that does not allow the pelvis to function dynamically.

What to do when your baby is breech

If your baby presents as breech, the worst thing you can do is stress. Meditate, let it settle, and then take action. There are numerous healing modalities in our world that have been available for centuries to encourage the baby to flip and to support the woman during a vaginal breech birth.

As a chiropractor and biomechanical specialist, functional causes of breech babies are where we can be of great help. A chiropractor can balance the muscles, release ligament tension, and deliver specific adjustments to put the body in an optimal structural alignment. This can allow your pelvis to open and function dynamically while walking and even during labor and delivery. An optimal environment gives your baby a little more room to move around.

Acupuncture offers a treatment called moxibustion in which you burn an herbal incense around your little toes. This stimulates movement in the baby almost immediately. Reiki and other energy healers can bring the energy fields and chakras back into harmony.

Chiropractic treatment, coupled with acupuncture and home inversions, have offered great success to women in our office. You may be asked to return four times in one week or once a week until delivery. This depends on your body and what is going on.

When a baby presents breech, slow down and take a look inside yourself. Be calm and check out of the fast-paced life for a few days. There are numerous healers out there. Be open to what the world has to offer. And remember, there are such experiences as vaginal breech births, and they are safe and normal.

There are numerous techniques and movements utilized during labor to help the woman maneuver her body and give birth safely to her baby. Find the practitioners that you love and trust. Here’s what you can do:

  • Play music, stay active, and interact with the baby especially around 30-34 weeks so that the baby moves head down.
  • On your own, be conscious of how you sit and stand. Present your heart to the world and stand symmetrical. Avoid leaning to one side or the other.
  • If you are breech, don’t stress.
  • Find out where your placenta is located and if there are any abnormalities.
  • If you are in the Los Angeles area come see Dr. Berlin & myself (Dr. Lindsey Mathews of BirthFIT) at one of the many offices.
  • Inversions are your friends. You don’t have to be completely inverted but put some pillows under your lower half and let gravity do its thing. Checkout Spinning Babies to aid you in some inversion techniques.
  • Visualize, meditate, and talk to your baby daily. Five minutes a day is a great start.

Have you experienced a breech birth or thought you might have to?

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  1. My baby was breech and I tried everything to get her to flip, even an external version…nothing worked.
    My doctor agreed to a vaginal birth and I’m a first time mom.
    The labor and delivery was beautiful. I labored for 4 hours at home.
    Then went to hospital and started pushing after an hour of being there.
    I only pushed for 30min. She came right out. No complications.
    It was a great birth and I am so happy I chose to deliver naturally with no meds instead of getting a c-section.
    I have my doctor to thank. He is the only doctor in town that will still deliver breech babies.

    Reply

  2. That is so fantastic to hear. I would love to interview you for my BirthFIT website. If you are interested just shoot me an email ([email protected]). Stories such as yours need to be shared <3

    Reply

  3. Great post Lindsey! I think breech delivery should be a top priority for midwives/doctors. It does seem to me like things are headed in that direction, so let’s hope that in ten years vaginal breech delivery will be more common!

    I have had two breech babies now. The first time I could not find anyone willing to deliver breech, and the second time because it was also a VBAC, I also couldn’t find anyone. I’ve had doula clients who have had c-sections due to breech also, but I’ve also had clients whose babies have turned at the last minute. If you know in the final weeks of your pregnancy that there is a possibility your baby will be breech, don’t give up because baby could turn in labor.

    When my first daughter was breech and I couldn’t find anyone willing to deliver vaginally, I was upset and disappointed. I had really wanted a natural birth, and although her birth was amazing I still felt I had somehow failed as a mom. The second time, when I found out my daughter was breech (again) at 38 weeks, instead of stressing for the last two weeks I focused on accepting whatever was going to happen at her birth. My doctor allowed me to go into labor naturally to see if she would turn during labor. She didn’t (her feet were presenting), and I had a c-section, but I was at peace with it. I knew I had done everything in my power to deliver naturally, and all that was left was to accept my birth and enjoy it. I watched her delivery, held her immediately afterward, delayed cord clamping….but most of all I was at peace. That made a huge difference in my birth experience.

    I feel that women also need to know that if a cesarean birth is their only option, it can be a beautiful experience. If you think a c-section might be in the cards due to breech presentation, find a doctor who will allow you to hold baby after the delivery, delay cord clamping, etc. You still have a say in your birth.

    Reply

  4. my babe was a surprise breechling (and a vba3c too). i tried everything on spinning babies to get her to turn as well as seeing a webster chiro. i even tried the ironing board and nearly bent it in half (whoops). i did, however, have a pretty easy birth. when i delivered my placenta, the midwife came to the conclusion that my it was on the lower side and that was likely why baby favored being head up.

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  5. I was able to deliver a healthy “Frank breech” baby vaginally at a birth center surrounded by a couple midwives, my doula and my husband all supporting me. I only pushed for 30 minutes, all but 2 inches of her tush came out in the final push. She had us fooled when they would check for postponing since her feet were by her head, but she fit very well in my pelvis. Labor was fairly short too, contractions overnight, active labor lasting for about 4 hours. I treasure the experience!!

    Reply

  6. Hi, I’m from Nigeria. 40Weeks by Friday 5th Jan 2018 and having breech baby boy. Very concerned and have made so much research but no solution. Very worried as doc scheduled c.section next week Tuesday 9th Jan, 2018.

    Any hope my baby can flip heads down?
    +2348102754724 I’m on WhatsApp.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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