Mom's cringe when hearing these words, not just mom's planning on having a natural birth but those having a planned caesarean alike. Anything 'abnormal' can send a mom to be into a frenzy. We like to know that our perfect little bun is growing and developing exactly as planned. But, such is life.. what ever pans out as expected?
So what exactly is Breech?
Your baby is supposed to turn into a birthing position (vertex), head down and ready to pop out, at 34 weeks. At times this may be delayed to the last few moments before you give birth,
your baby may also switch between breech and the vertex position just to play with your already frazzled mind. At 36 weeks you may consider External Cephalic Version (ECV), where your doctor will
attempt to turn your baby externally! This holds its own risks and is not always successful.
There are various positions you may find your baby in:
Complete Breech: Buttocks down, legs folded with feet near the bum
Frank Breech: Bum down, both feet up near the babes head
Footling Breech: One or two feet descended into the birth canal, ready to deliver first
Transverse: Lying across the belly with head under the ribs on one side and bottom and feet on the other
Well your little one may just be comfortable, and not so keen on moving.. but there are a few other things to consider:
- Are you tense and unable to relax; have you been suffering with pain through your pregnancy without seeking help? Tension in your pelvic floor, lower back, glutes and thighs may be inhibiting movement.
- Hypertonic uterus, you may be experiencing regular braxton hicks, your child may have learnt that movement leads to him or her being squashed and has decided to avoid this at all costs (quite smart already).
- Cord Length, should be 35-70cm, checked around 20 weeks, when anatomy is assessed. A short cord may make movement limited for your little one
- Subsequent pregnancies
- History of premature delivery
- Placenta previa
- Uterine abnormality- abnormal shape, growths (fibroids)
- Too much or too little amniotic fluid
- Pregnancies of multiples
Is Natural possible ?
It is not impossible but, unfortunately... unlikely. With caesareans becoming standard practice and the rise in malpractice law suits, natural delivery for breech births is discouraged. There are also risks attached to breech deliveries which may be more than enough reason to stick with a caesarean.
- A footlong breech baby will descend earlier than anticipated. This is because the diameter of your babies feet will be able to fit through the birth canal and 'slip' through the cervix before it is fully open. Here we have to be concerned about the babies bottom and head fitting through the pelvis.
- Complete and frank Breech babies are more likely able to deliver vaginally. This is because the diameter of the presenting bottom is similar to that of the head and shoulders, and will more likely fit as well as descend when the cervix is open and ready.
What are the risks of Natural
- Head Trauma: The head is the biggest part of the body, when presenting in a vertex position the head helps stretch the cervix and prepare the vaginal canal for safe delivery. If breech, with a bottom which has a smaller diameter than the head, you may be at risk of your babies head getting stuck. In this case, forceps may be used to safely aid the babies head out of the birth canal.
- Cord Prolapse: Your babies cord may descend into the birth canal and become compressed. This will compromise blood flow and oxygen supply to your baby.
So, What can you do?
During pregnancy, be aware of your body and state of mind! Look after yourself and make sure you are ready for the new addition to your family! If you are struggling in any aspect, be it stress and anxiety or general aches and pains, seek help and sort it out sooner rather than later, because 'later' you going to have a new born taking up all your 'me' time.
A few things to take note of:
- Deep breathing exercises: explained in one of our instagram posts, links below. Belly breathing, helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system which: reduces stress and anxiety, improves gastric motility, encourages baby to move and activates your pelvic floor! You could be tackling more than one problem with this simple exercise!
- Positioning: Certain resting and sleeping positions have been said to encourage your babe moving into the vertex position.
- Ice/heat: We can encourage movement in a decide direction with varied temperatures
- Manual therapy: You may need hands on therapy to relieve tension and stiff joints
- Exercise: you may need to adapt your exercise regime
- Mobility: You may need to work on your pelvic and lumbar range of movement
- Sound: music and a mothers voice may impact your babies mobility
External Cephalic Version
At 36 weeks, provided you and your little one are in goo health, your doctor may offer ECV. This is a manual method of facilitating movement into the vertex position.
So there you have it, a short and sweet outline of Breech, what it means and what can be done. I hope you feel empowered through knowledge, knowing that you don't have to sit and wait to see what may happen. Its not all in the doctors hands, you too can get involved and encourage your babe to move.