Breech births occur about 4 times in every 100 births. Baby can be feet or bottom
first instead of head first. There are a number of variations of breech presentation
depending how the legs are folded and which way baby is facing:-
Complete breech where legs are crossed and folded
Frank breech (incomplete) where body is folded at the hips but legs are straight
with feet touching the head
Footling breech where feet come first. This is rare.
There are a number of reasons why a breech presentation may occur:-
Baby may be premature/small
Baby may be large or have a large head
Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid)
Twins or more
Growths in the uterus
An unusual shaped pelvis
Stress or in the mother or other psycho-physiological reason
Hospitals these days prefer to perform a caesarean section when a baby is breech
but many birthing centres have midwives who are trained and experienced at delivering
breech babies. Nevertheless, a breech birth does have a higher risk associated with
it, particularly for baby. If your baby is in the breech position at 32 weeks of
pregnancy there is still plenty of time for him to turn but I recommend doing as
much reading as you can to understand the risk factors associated with both caesarean
sections and vaginal breech births. The more informed you are, the better.
However, if you start early, there are as number of things you can do to encourage
your baby to turn:-
Hypnosis for turning a breech baby
This is surprisingly effective in a number of ways. It is relaxing for Mum thus relaxing
the uterine muscles allowing baby more freedom to move around. It also allows Mum
to connect and communicate with her baby in the womb - never underestimate the power
of the mind. Evidence has shown that hypnotherapy can almost double the chance of
the baby turning when compared to no treatment. This method works well in combination
with the pelvic tilt exercise below.
This involves the Mum to be spending about 10 minutes two or three times a day lying
down with her hips propped up on several cushions so that they are higher than her
head. Can be started from 32 weeks of pregnancy only when baby is in the breech
position and not as a preventative measure.
This method comes from Traditional Chinese medicine and involves the use of burning
the leaves of a herb called mugwort at a specific acupuncture point - bladder 67.
This procedure alters the energy flow to the uterus and can encourage the baby to
turn. There is some evidence of its effectiveness and in China it is said to work
85% of the time. (Steen 2008).
This is a procedure whereby the doctor manipulates the position of the baby from
the outside. It is successful in about 50% of cases but rarely (less than 1% of
cases), there can be complications such as ruptured membranes, premature labour,
damage to the placenta and evidence of stress in the foetus. Some women find the
procedure painful. After this procedure baby may sometimes revert back to breech
after turning head down. (Steen 2008).
Gentle walking and swimming can help baby to take the best position for birth and
has many other benefits for mother and baby.
Steen M, Kingdon C. (2008) Breech birth: Reviewing the evidence for external
cephalic version and moxibustion. Evidence Based Midwifery 6(4): 126-129