As your little one gets bigger his/her accommodation will become increasingly cramped but from time to time it will still feel like baby is having a gymnastic session during last weeks of pregnancy. Between week 32 and 38 usually around week 36 most babies do settle head down with the head next to your cervix and facing your back.
However, not every baby makes this natural turn to head south in the womb. About 3-4 % of babies still have their heads up by the time they’re full term but that doesn’t mean to say he/she will remain breech when it’s comes to the big day.
Some little ones don’t let on what end will ultimately be up until just before birth. But if your baby stays in the breech position come delivery day, a vaginal birth can be difficult or impossible. Fortunately, there are steps yourself and your doctor can take to get baby to change direction before you go into labour.
What is a Breech Baby?
A breech baby is when the baby’s bottom, feet or both are poised to come out of the vagina first during birth instead of vertex position which means the baby is positioned vertically in the uterus with the bottom up so he/she can come out of the vagina head first. It is said that in breech presentations girls are born than boys and head presentations has a slight excess of boys.
Types of Breech Positions
There are 3 types of breech positions. Your baby may be one of the following:-
This is the most common breech position, your baby’s bottom is down, his/her hips flexed with legs pointing upward and his/her feet near the head as if they were in a V pike position
In this position, the baby’s head is up and his/her bottom is down with both hips and knees flexed like they are rolled up into a little ball.
Your baby is head-up with one or both feel hanging down which mean that he/she would come out feet first.
What causes it?
Sometimes, doctors can’t determine why a baby ends up in a breech position. There are some possible reasons that contribute to this happening. Bearing in mind, however, that most of the time, none of these risk factors are present and your baby ends up with their little bottom down.
Normally the uterus looks like a hollow, upside down pear but in some women it can be a different shape, which can be detected by a pelvic examination or an ultrasound before or during pregnancy. You may have an abnormal uterine from birth or develop one later on due to scar tissue from surgery, fibroids, or a terrible uterine infection, or a C-section. As a result, your baby might not have enough space to turn around and face south.
If your placenta is lying low (Placenta Previa) which covers the cervix or is located up near the top of your uterine wall but is blocking the space near your baby’s head, he/she may not be able to wiggle his/her way into a head down position.
Too little or too much amniotic fluid can cause a breech position. Not enough fluid makes it difficult for your baby to turn round, while too much mean he/she has too much space and can flip between breech and head down position.
If you are expecting more than one baby, one or more of the babies may not be able to get into the head down position since there is not enough space to move.
If you’ve had a previous breech baby, you face a higher chance of other pregnancies being breech too.
The earlier your baby is born, the higher the chance he/she will be breech. About 25% of babies are breech at 28 weeks, but only 3% or are breech at term.
You or your partner were breech
There’s a higher chance your own baby will be breech, according to some research.
It’s very rare a problem with the baby’s muscular or central nervous system can cause a breech position. Having an abnormally short umbilical cord may also limit your baby’s movement.
Research has shown that smoking during your pregnancy journey may increase the risk of having a breech baby.
How can you tell your baby is in the right position?
As your due date gets nearer, your doctor or midwife will determine your baby’s position by feeling the outside of your abdomen and uterus which consists of 4 classic maneuvers to determine the position of your baby – the term used to describe this is Leopold maneuvers which is named after the gynecologist Christian Gerhard Leopold.
If your baby is breech, his/her firm round head will be towards the top of your uterus and his/her softer, less round bottom will be lower. The accuracy of this assessment varies widely, so many times, especially with availability of technology, a routine ultrasound will be performed to confirm physical exam findings.
Turning a Breech Baby
If your Obstetrician decides to turn your baby from the outside, they will attempt what’s known as an external cephalic version (ECV). This procedure is a hands on manipulation of your tummy in order to coax your little one from a breech or side-lying position to one where he/she got her head pointing down towards your cervix. This is usually attempted around 36 or 37 weeks before labour begins. Sometimes, a version can be tried during early labour before your water has broken, but once labour is underway, the likelihood of a version being successful will be very low. If it works, an ECV allows women to try for a vaginal birth. When it isn’t successful, you’ll be scheduled to delivery via a C-Section.
How does an Obstetrician turn a Breech Baby?
It involves your Obstetrician placing their hands on your tummy and pushing the baby into the head-down position using firm pressure. You’ll be given medication to help relax your uterus which doesn’t affect your little one. It can be quite uncomfortable and sometimes painful but the procedure is quick. The benefits of delivering your baby via your vagina far outweigh the brief discomfort of the procedure itself.
Sometimes, babies tend to flip back into the breech position after been successfully turned. If this happens, your Obstetrician will try and reposition your baby again but it can be tougher to carry out the closer it gets to your due date as the baby has limited space to move around.
There are alternative ways to get the baby to turn. Here are some holistic treatments to help the baby to turn naturally.
Helps reduce stress and anxiety, balance the hormones and open the hips and promote good circulation throughout the body and helps baby to move head down from the breech position.
There is an energy point on each little toe when stimulated through reflexology can assist in helping baby to turn head down. Women who receive regular maternity reflexology tend to have shorter labours and were less likely use medication for pain relief. It’s also great for reducing fatigue and stress levels. In late pregnancy reflexology increases levels of oxytocin levels, soften the cervix and loosen the pelvis.
Hypnobirthing is a combination of hypnosis and visualisation which are very powerful tools to help your baby to turn head down. There are many hypnobirthing tracks available specifically aimed at helping with foetal positioning. You may wish to work with a Hypnobirthing Practitioner who has experience in supporting parents throughout their pregnancy journey. Research has shown that 80% of breech babies turned and remained head down after Practising hypnobirthing.
Moxibustion involves burning of a moxa stick or cone which is made out of ground Mugwort leaves near a person’s 5th toes for 15-20 mins . The heat stimulates the energy points (Qi) which encourages the baby to move. This process can be done once or multiple times. Acupuncture can also be used alongside the moxa stick method which increases the success rate for turning a breech baby.
If you are interested in trying these alternative therapies, talk to your doctor first.
At Home Methods
Here are some at home methods you could try to help baby move to head first position. There’s no scientific research to back these home methods but saying this, science doesn’t know everything. These methods won’t harm yourself or the baby so it’s worth a try.
Rock on your knees
Sway back and forth gently on your hands and knees with your bottom higher than your head
Try this for 5 minutes several times a day
Maintain good posture
Sit upright on a birthing ball, which will help open up the pelvic area and make it easier for your baby to make his/her to move.
Put on your favourite music/song or have your partner speak near the bottom of your belly and wait for your baby (fingers crossed) to follow the tune.
Standing hip circles, Bottom up child’s pose, Supported bridge pose, Dolphin Pose, Downward Dog, Shoulder stand with wall support can all help with breech baby. These positions will help open space in the pelvis to give baby lots of room to move so he/she rotates into a downward position. Do these positions when the baby is active which will increase the chances of baby moving into the right position and be patient and hold poses for an extended period of time approximately 5-10 mins at least daily up to 3 times a day.
Place a bag of frozen veggies at the top of your stomach. It is reported that some experts and Mums-to-be think the cold sensation sends baby headed in the right direction.