Breech Babies: Is There Anything You Can Do?

pregnancy belly

Is there anything to be done about a breech baby?Credit: Mrs. Flinger

Nicole Crawford, AFPA-certifed pre- and post-natal fitness specialist, is the Women’s, Kids and Family Feature writer over at Breaking Muscle. She recently talked to Katy Bowman, founder of the Restorative Exercise Institute, about breech babies, what you can do to turn one and how proper posture helps.

I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I was ready. I had read all the pregnancy books. I met with my midwife regularly, as well as my “normal” OB/GYN. I was in great shape, ate well, and had my handy checklist and birth plan hanging on the fridge. The only thing I wasn’t quite sure of was whether I wanted to give birth in a squatting position or birthing tub.

But I wasn’t prepared for what my doctor told me at my 36 week check-up. Despite my strong feeling to the contrary, my baby was STILL in the breech position. She hadn’t budged since the beginning of the second trimester, in fact. She was plenty active, but flipping onto her head wasn’t in her game plan. So I added a new item to the to-do list: “Schedule C-section.” My daughter ended up coming on her own time, but she didn’t turn around. She was born via emergency C-section two weeks later…and it was the most amazing moment of my life. But of course, I looked forward to my VBAC the next time around.

Then, two years later, I heard the exact same words from my doctor about my second child. After an entire pregnancy in the head-down position, she had turned around at 35 weeks. When I found out she was in breech, I started doing some research. I had heard people say that I was too small to have a baby “normally.” Maybe they were right. I researched all the possible causes of breech presentation. I tried moxibustion, inversion and even the Webster technique. I think perhaps if I had started sooner, there might have been hope. I told myself there was still time, but before I knew it I was in labor. I had my second c-section due to breech presentation, and my beautiful little Sunniva came into the world.

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with the topic of fetal positioning. I know, what a nerd. But it’s actually an amazingly complex topic. That being said, I’m not a chiropractor. I have a limited knowledge of human biomechanics. So I decided to ask someone who has extensive knowledge in this field to share a bit about those breech babies, and what moms can do to optimize fetal positioning. So without further ado, here is a short interview with Katy Bowman, founder of the Restorative Exercise Institute. She is an amazing lady and also a mama of two. If you haven’t already, check out her awesome blog, Katy Says, to learn more about her. Read on fore more about this topic.


Comments

  1. Jessica says

    I found out at my 36 week appointment that my little guy was breech–and that I had very low amniotic fluid, meaning there wasn’t a lot of squishy space for him to turn around in. I tried all sorts of yoga poses that I heard might help him turn, and I tried to drink lots and lots of fluid. I scheduled an ECV and when I went in for that, my amniotic fluid was so low they decided he had to come out right then. While I had really been hoping to have a natural childbirth and was a little bummed about the c-section, I did end up getting the best Valentine’s Day present ever 3.5 weeks before his due date!

    I didn’t think about how sitting slouched over at my desk every day probably did limit the space the baby had to move around in, and that my continued weight training, while keeping my muscles strong, probably wasn’t helping open up the space for him. For my next pregnancy (which I really hope to end with a VBAC), I will be more mindfull of standing and moving more.

  2. Nicole says

    Jessica,

    I was cracking up reading about the yoga poses. Some of the ones I did were really wacky. I also have a V-Day baby! (2011)

    I also didn’t consider the walking/sitting aspects. Like you, I did weight training throughout my pregnancy, and ran up until 7 months, but once that got uncomfortable I kind of slacked off on the whole walking thing.

    Wishing you the best for your next pregnancy!

    ~Nicole C.

  3. Connie says

    Thank you Erin for interviewing Katy.

    I agree with the information Katy shares and wish I had worked more with my posture and walking than I did for my two breech pregnancies. The second and third out of my three children were born breech presentation. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to birth my babes vaginally. My first breech was a surprise at the birth so I did not do anything to try to turn him. My second was discovered at the end of the first trimester and I tried many things from sleeping with my feet up, to moxibustion, to reiki, to diving straight down to the bottom of the pool in nine feet of water, but he stayed put. For many reasons in my life at that time I was holding my personal space quite tightly and I have also had tight ham strings etc. for as long as I can remember. So implementing Katy’s info. would have been very helpful at the time.

    I would like to take a moment to mention that a condition known as “split uterus” can sometimes be the cause of a baby taking up residence in breech position. This condition is congenital and is a malformation of the uterus which takes two forms (as far as I know) that are slightly different — Bicornuate and Septate. I highly recommend that you look into this condition if you are having difficulty conceiving, if you have had one or more pregnancies that have not gone full term or if your baby is wanting to stay in breech position.

    My question for Katy would be, ” Do you think that alignment work might be able to give the baby more room even in a bicornuate or septate uterus?”

  4. Michelle says

    Hypnosis can really help with breech turn. It’s all about releasing any tension being held in the body/muscles. Sometimes in order to release tension, you need to explore on a subconscious level to find what is causing that tension and ‘deal with’ the root cause. Perhaps a fear, feeling unsupported by loved ones, or holding the baby close to your heart for whatever reason, etc. When I did it (with my HypnoBirthing instructor) it was amazing and that night while I slept, he turned! :)
    Michelle R.

  5. Nicole says

    Connie,

    I second that question. After my second breech birth, my doctor actually checked my uterus and found no abnormalities. So I’m thinking alignment might have had more to do with it. However, I’m glad you brought up that point, since it is definitely a contributing factor in breech. If I hadn’t known about it, I don’t think my oBGYN would have checked me, since I specifically requested that he check for abnormalities.

    Michelle,

    Hypnobirthing was the one thing I didn’t try, and I wish I had! I’ve heard it can really work wonders with breech presentation. Unfortunately we had exhausted all our time and money after trying chiro and acupuncture. I think it’s so true, though, that the body can hold tension due to emotional reasons, just as it can for biomechanical reasons.

    Thanks ladies for reading and chiming in! I’m glad that this topic is receiving more attention.

  6. Lisa Gillispie says

    Connie, glad to see that you mentioned the uterine defects aka mullerian anomalies. As a member of the “funky uteri” club, I think it’s important for people to be aware of this, especially because it’s shocking how misinformed/uniformed traditional ob/gyns, and even reproductive endocrinologists, are.

    I think that how much alignment would affect a baby’s position in a uterus like this would depend on the specifics of that person’s anomaly. Some bicornuate uteri are only a slight indentation. Some, like mine, are a nearly complete division of the uterine cavity. A bicornuate uterus will have more pliability to it because the uterine wall forms the dip/division. With a septum, it’s typically a less pliable tissue making up the division but again, the length of the septum will play a role in how much physical space is available to the baby for turning.

    There are also unicornuate uteri where only 1 horn of the uterus develops, so essentially the baby is developing in 1/2 of a normal uterus. In that case, there’s less physical space for the baby to move around in period, so I would think if a baby were breech in that scenario it would be difficult for the baby to turn due to really cramped quarters.

    All that said though, optimizing your alignment is only going to be a good thing and increase your chances, regardless of the shape of your uterus, of baby being optimally positioned.

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