Childbirth Options for a Baby in Breech Position

With breech pregnancies, options for turning a breech baby’s position before delivery and options for delivery if the baby does not turn, will be dependent on how far along the pregnancy is and other factors of the pregnancy. The term “breech presentation” refers to the position that a baby is in before delivery, if it is any position other than the common vertex or head-down position.

Before they are born, most babies move into the vertex, head first position that’s more optimal for giving birth. However, in approximately 1 out of every 25 full-term births, the baby is in a breech position. There are three types of breech positions: Frank, Complete and Footling. All of these breech positions indicate that, instead of the baby having the preferable head first position, its feet, or legs and buttocks are in a downward position closest to the birth canal.

An ultrasound will show if the baby is in a breech position and how developed the baby is. Thirty-seven weeks of pregnancy is the standard length of time a baby is first considered to be full-term. The following two options for attempting to get a baby to change position can be done before or after 37 weeks of pregnancy.

The Breech Tilt-  For this exercise, the expectant mother will need a couple of pillows. Lying on her back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, she should then place the pillows underneath her hips to raise them off the floor approximately 10-15 inches. This should be done three times a day for 10-15 minutes on an empty stomach and with an empty bladder. She should also stay relaxed and not tense her body, especially in the abdominal area.

Music or her voice- Since babies can  hear sounds outside of the womb, a woman can record her own voice or play music and put headphones on the lower part of the her abdomen to try and get the baby to move towards the sound.

With the next options, it’s recommended that women be at least 37 weeks pregnant:

Homeopathic remedies-  30C of Pulsatilla can be taken 2-3 times per day until the baby turns. If Pulsatilla fails, 30C of Viscum Album can be tried. For the woman who is breech and also has too little amniotic fluid, 30C of Natrum Muriaticum may be successful in turning the baby.

Moxibustion- the burning of mugwort which is believed to stimulate the blood flow in the uterus and pelvic area. This Chinese treatment of acupuncture, which has been used for hundreds of years by the Chinese, can increase the activity of the baby. It simply involves the placement of a lit moxa stick near the outer edge of the pinky toenail.

The next three procedures do require trained and certified medical personnel whether it’s an obstetrician or a midwife. They’re typically performed when the pregnancy has gone 37 weeks or longer and the baby still has not turned or the mother has gone into labor:

External Cephalic Version- This is a procedure that can be done as an outpatient and is usually done late in the pregnancy. Attempts will be made to turn the baby by pushing on the woman’s stomach and abdomen (the baby’s head and buttocks) to try and get the baby to turn. It can be somewhat of an uncomfortable procedure for some women, but usually only lasts 5-10 minutes. This procedure can also be done during labor as long as her water has not already broken.

Breech Vaginal Birth- It is possible for a breech baby to be delivered vaginally although there are likely to be more risks. In order to do this procedure, the doctor will first have to assess certain conditions, such as the maturity of the baby, the fetal size of the baby in relation to the pelvis, if there is any hyperextension of the baby’s head and the type of breech positioning the baby is in (Frank, Complete or Footling). The best success for a breech vaginal birth is when the baby is in the frank breech presentation. Also extremely important with this method, is that the doctor or person delivering the baby has been trained for this type of circumstance.

Cesarean Section- This procedure involves making an incision through the abdomen and into the uterus to deliver the baby. It’s a practice that has been very common for decades with babies in the breech position, as well as in other instances where the mother or baby are in some sort of danger. A cesarean section is a relatively safe procedure, but as with any surgery, there can be some risks involved such as infection or increased blood loss. The risks with cesarean are minimal however, and many health care professionals still prefer a cesarean delivery over a vaginal delivery when a baby is breech.

One last option is a technique women can begin in the earlier weeks of pregnancy and even before becoming pregnant. It’s called the Webster technique and its main purpose is to optimize the positioning of the baby before it’s born.  The Webster technique is a particular chiropractic analysis and adjustment, that if done on a regular basis throughout the pregnancy, can reduce problems to the nervous system and balance the pelvic ligaments and muscles. This chiropractic procedure is said to minimize torsion (a twisting or state of being twisted) and a constraint within the uterus that could restrict the baby’s ability for movement.

All of these various options for dealing with breech pregnancies have different success rates. For the best chances in turning a breech baby before delivery or in delivering a breech baby safely during childbirth, consultation, examination and discussion are crucial between the attending physician and their patient.