What is a breech baby? (and how to turn them, mama)

Everything you need to know.

breech-baby

About 3-4% of babies are breech during pregnancy. If your little bundle is breech or transverse [insert “she's already stubborn and she hasn't even been born yet!" joke here], you are probably filled with questions about what this means for your pregnancy and birth.

Let's spend a moment talking about exactly what this means, and then we'll go over some ways to nudge your little one in the right direction.

What is a breech baby?

A breech baby is essentially upside down, with either their bottom, knees or feet pointing toward your vagina. A transverse baby is in a side-to-side, or horizontal position.

Being breech isn't actually a problem in and of itself. In fact, we used to deliver breech babies vaginally all the time. Unfortunately, it is becoming a lost art as there is a small concern for increased risk of birth complications (which you can read more about here).

Should I be worried that my baby is breech?

We don't start to worry about the baby's position until about halfway through your third trimester. Babies spend the majority of the pregnancy moving all over the place, so if your little bean isn't head down, and you still have a little while to go before your due date, you don't have to worry yet. Although It's not a bad idea to help check out the tips below to help encourage them to “lock-in" in a good position when the time comes.

How can I turn a breech baby?

As you approach 33-34 weeks, it's a good idea to start to actively try to flip your baby. Here are some ways how:

Exercises and positioning

By moving your body around and changing the space in your belly and pelvis, your baby may get the opportunity they need to flip. Spending time in a hands-and-knees position, or an elbows-and-knees position can help. Spend some time in this position a few times/day. Also, check out Spinning Babies. They have lots of ideas.

Chiropractic care

Many chiropractors are trained in a special called the Webster Technique, which involves very gentle adjustments to release the tension in the pelvis, and allow your baby to flip.

Acupuncture

Research has found that an acupuncture technique called moxibustion, where a burning herb is held next to your toe. can help turn breech and transverse babies. Seek out a practitioner that is trained to work with breech babies.

Old wives tales that can't hurt

Some say that shining a light above your pubic bone can make your baby move, since they'll be curious to check out this new sight. And when my baby was breech, I played music by my pubic bone to encourage her to move her head down—who knows if this did the trick, but she did turn!

What is an external cephalic versions, or ECV?

An ECV is a non-surgical procedure usually done in the hospital that is meant to manually turn a breech and transverse baby. This is done with the provider's hand manipulating the baby by pressing on your belly. This isn't without its risks—sometimes this stresses the baby out, which can make their heart rate drop, and if that happens it's possible to need an emergency C-section. Women also report that this can be an uncomfortable or even painful process.

Can you have a vaginal birth if your baby is breech?

It's important to note that if your baby stays breech, there are certainly providers out there who will attend vaginal breech births! There are some risks though, so finding a provider with expertise is key. You can start by asking your provider for a recommendation, or asking in local mom groups if anyone has had a positive experience with someone.

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