July 6, 2016
At some point during pregnancy, many babies are found to be breech, meaning bottom down instead of head down. Breech vaginal birth may be associated with some slightly higher rates of negative outcome for babies, and so many practitioners in the U.S. consider breech presentation at or beyond term (usually 38 or 39 weeks) a reason to schedule a cesarean. As a birth doula, when a woman is told that her baby is breech at an appointment, I often get worried calls or texts, asking for all. the. things to get the baby to turn.
One thing that is important to know is that only 3-4% of babies are going to stay breech at term. That means that if you are 28 weeks pregnant and just found out your baby is breech: DO NOT PANIC. It is very likely that your baby will turn well before delivery, and you will be able to give birth the way you want to! After 32 weeks gestation, the percentage of babies who are breech tends to decrease, and by around 36 weeks, most babies have flipped to a vertex (head down) position.
So, what happens if you hit 34 weeks gestation, and your baby is still (or newly) breech? Here are a few proven ways to help coax your baby into a head down position:
You may notice that for many of these, the name of the game is getting your muscles and ligaments in the pelvis to relax. I think it may be worthwhile for any woman with a breech baby during pregnancy to think about and practice different ways of relaxing and stretching the pelvic and uterine muscles. Use it as an excuse to get a prenatal massage, go to a prenatal yoga class, or simply take a long, warm, bath by candlelight. Things that will help you to deeply relax, and while you are at it, connect and bond with your unborn baby!
Finally, here are some techniques or ideas you might come across if you do a Google search, but that don't necessarily prove to be effective at turning a breech baby. They may not necessarily hurt, though, either.
At Southwest Ohio Family Doulas we excel at companioning with women through their pregnancy and birth. If you live in the Cincinnati or Dayton region, and you find yourself with a breech baby during pregnancy, our doulas can not only give you tips and suggestions to help turn the baby, but will also walk alongside you as you process your emotions and make decisions regarding the delivery of your baby. We can help you feel satisfied and involved in your birth, whether your baby turns and you have a vaginal birth, you have a planned cesarean, or even go for a vaginal breech birth!
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, and you live in Southwest Ohio, the Cincinnati Area Doula Society hosted a screening of the documentary Heads Up: The Disappearing Art of Vaginal Breech Delivery, followed by a panel discussion with several local experts, which you can view on Facebook.