My first baby was breech and was born via an emergency c-section. We only discovered he was breech when I was well into labor, which is pretty unusual.
At 37 ½ weeks pregnant, I had gotten up in the middle of the night to go pee (like I did every night, several times a night.) This time it was different. After peeing it was obvious to me that my water had broken. It was a very different sensation than peeing which you can control or hold in. I could not hold this fluid in, it leaked out continually.
Contractions started immediately in a very regular pattern. I labored at home for several hours with the support of my husband until things started to feel much more intense. It required all of my focus and energy to get through the pain and power of the contractions. I knew it was time to go.
The twenty minute car ride to the birth center was pretty wild. I was in the back-seat, on all fours, having strong contractions. There is a lot of pressure down there, is my baby coming out? I told my husband to drive faster, but not too fast because I didn’t want a lot of bumps and jerks on the ride. The poor man did the best he could with my contradictory demands.
When we finally arrived my midwife did a cervical exam. She could feel my baby’s little foot coming out of the cervix and into the birth canal. Surprise, surprise! My baby was breech. We were whisked off for an emergency c-section.
Usually care providers know the position of the baby prior to the onset of labor and a surprise like ours is rare. Babies are mostly born with their head coming out first. When a baby is presenting with their bottom first or their feet or foot first this is called a breech birth or a breech baby.
Babies move around in utero and can be in a breech position in early pregnancy. Most of them turn on their own and are headfirst by the time of delivery.
The majority of care providers in the United States will only deliver babies vaginally when they are presenting with their head first. Therefore most babies that are breech at the time of delivery are born via cesarean section.
With my next child I wanted to do everything possible to avoid another breech baby so that I could have a vaginal birth. And in the end we succeeded! Whether the steps I took contributed or not, there is no way to know for sure. However, they made me feel better about my chances and they definitely didn’t hurt.
Here are some of the things we did to prepare for an easier birth. My tips for breech babies:
1. Chiropractic Care:
With baby #2 I saw a chiropractor throughout my pregnancy and more frequently as I was getting closer to my due date. I sought out a Webster certified chiropractor. The Webster technique is used by chiropractors to help get your pelvis, hips and tailbone in alignment allowing your baby to be in the best position possible for labor and birth. It releases stress on the pelvis and relaxes the surrounding ligaments. Chiropractic care is also great for simply relieving the normal day-to-day discomforts of pregnancy.
2. The Pelvic Tilt:
Also known as the “cat-cow” position in yoga, the pelvic tilt is a stretch that helps keep your joints limber and relaxes tension in your lower back. On your hands and knees lift your back towards the ceiling and then straighten it (but do not dip your lower back, just keep it straight.) Switch from curling your back upwards to straightening it in a rhythm. Do this a dozen times or more and be sure to get up slowly when you’re done. I did pelvic tilts regularly during my 2nd pregnancy to help encourage my baby into an optimal position. After a long day it was also comforting and relaxing.
3. Body balance with Spinning Babies:
Your body is going through so many changes during pregnancy. Midwife, Gail Tully, of Spinning Babies, shares info on exercises and positioning to give your baby the most room to rotate and enter the pelvis. She recommends resting smart by sitting up on your sitz bones, with your back straight and your knees lower than your hips. I’ll be honest, this one was hard for me! The recliner in our living room got a lot of use during my pregnancy, but I did try my best to practice good posture. Sitting on an exercise ball and swaying your hips is one way to accomplish this. Check out the Spinning Baby website for much more info on flipping a breech baby.
I signed myself up for prenatal yoga classes at Yoga Village in Safety Harbor and tried to attend them as regularly as possible. These classes were a great time to relax, connect with my baby, stretch and give my body the TLC it deserved. All of the positions and exercises were tailored to my pregnant body and helped with hip-opening and pelvis balancing. I always left feeling energized but still calm and relaxed. You can also look for an online prenatal yoga class to do right from the comfort of your home!
5. Take Advantage of Doula Support:
Starting in pregnancy your doula can be a resource to you for information and guidance. The 2nd time around I hired a doula! In addition to her vast knowledge about labor and birth, she listened and validated my fears about having a 2nd breech baby. She put my emotional needs first and soothed my stress. Her continuous presence by my side in labor made me feel empowered. It’s a fact that families are far more satisfied with their birth experiences when they hire birth doulas for support!
6. Know that you did not fail:
You could try all the tricks and tips in the world to prevent a breech baby or to flip your breech baby. There are many more suggestions you can find on the internet including: moxibustion, acupuncture, forward leaning inversions, etc. You could even try the medical options: ECV, external cephalic version, a procedure done by your doctor to manually turn your baby. Some of these things might help.
Yet, in the end your baby may still remain in a breech position. If for any reason (including breech positioning or otherwise) you need to have a cesarean to birth your baby, please know that you did not fail. Some babies will need to be born by c-section. As much as we would like to have ultimate control, we do not. A cesarean is not a failure. You brought your baby into the world safely. You are a good parent.