"I went to my prenatal today, and my OB says baby is breech! I am 36.5 weeks. Does that mean I have to have a C-section?
Not necessarily. Barring other risk factors determined by your provider, there are options you can consider before scheduling your babies birthday. Anything from simply waiting, to more invasive procedures. Babies can get themselves in all sorts of interesting positions before birth.
Sometimes baby decides the position they need to be in is breech, either foot/feet - or bum - first.
Things to consider when baby is breech
While a cesarean birth can be the best option in some cases, it’s always a great idea to look at all the options before making a decision. If a cesarean birth still ends up being the best choice, great! Or maybe you’ll learn something you weren’t aware of and decide to look into it further. Your birth is full of choices that you get to make for you and your baby.
Babies like to move
When a baby is breech in the last weeks of pregnancy, this doesn’t always mean they’ll stay that way. Around 36 weeks your provider might notice that baby is in a breech position, but you may be surprised to know that some babies will still turn in the last days of pregnancy. Sometimes right before birth. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but it is a possibility.
Have you considered chiropractic care?
Don’t write it off too quick. There may be some imbalances in your body or pelvis, causing baby to settle into an awkward position. Keeping a balanced pelvis during pregnancy with chiropractic care doesn’t just help some babies turn, it can lead to less discomfort and pain during pregnancy, and even shorter labors! (Who doesn't want that??) Find a chiropractor who knows how to work with pregnant mothers, babies, and kids. A chiropractor trained in The Webster Technique will know how to take good care of you. If you haven’t seen a chiropractor throughout your pregnancy, but discover the benefits because of a breech baby, even one visit could be beneficial. But the earlier chiropractic care is started, the better!
“If the baby has not moved head down by 36 weeks or so we usually will check to see if the sacrum is out of alignment and then [check] the opposite round ligament. Using Webster protocol it will relieve the pressure on the front and the back of the pelvis, and allows the baby to start to move head down. The Webster protocol has a very high success rate - *85% + of the time it will help the baby move into the right position.”
-Twila Henderson, D.C., Chiropractor in Denton County, TX
The ECV procedure
ECV stands for External Cephalic Version, a procedure you may opt to attempt when you are full term, to help turn baby head down. An ECV will be done in a hospital, with the baby closely monitored by your OB for signs of distress. Not all providers will give you this option, and if that’s the case, you’ll need to find recommendations for someone who does. ECV is successful a little more than half the time, but keep in mind that some babies will turn back around anytime in the days and weeks after it’s performed.
We don’t often know why babies choose the positions they do, but seeing as how they have an up close and personal view of their environment - we should be cognizant of how much effort we are putting into getting them to do what we think is best. Good practice for later parenting!
Vaginal Breech Birth
There are babies born breech on purpose you say? Indeed there are. The key is to find an experienced provider if this is an option you choose! Breech birth isn’t around much nowadays - training for delivering breech babies has all but vanished in most areas. When we do see providers offering breech birth, it’s often a skill passed on from one provider to the next.
There are risks to a vaginal breech birth, just as there are risks to a cesarean breech birth. Do your research, and weigh your options. Sometimes a vaginal breech birth isn’t an option if there are risk factors with the mother, location of the placenta, or position of the baby. We have options for vaginal breech births in North Dallas, TX, but depending on where you live, you may not be able to find a provider willing to attend a one. In this case, if you’ve exhausted all your options, you can extend your travel radius, or plan for a cesarean birth. Again, it’s great to have options!
In the end, the most important thing isn’t how your baby is born. It’s whether you did what you found to be the best option for your birth, after careful consideration of your choices. My hope for all women and/or couples is that they have the resources and mindset they need to feel good about their experience. Birth can be amazing! Even if the outcome is different than what you originally hoped for.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - If a baby is breech
Setting the stage for baby to turn and Chiropractic Care
More information for breech babies