I had no idea how rare natural breech births are. As neither of my babies had presented as a breech in pregnancy I hadn’t read anything about it. My breech baby was a complete surprise to everyone and I was very lucky to be able to have a natural birth. I was told by so many people how unusual a natural breech birth was so I decided to find out why. This post will answer all of your questions and shares the story of my breech birth.
What is a Breech Birth?
Most babies will be born with their head facing downwards. But a small percent will be in one of three breech positions:
- A complete breech is when the baby is bottom first (knees tucked up with feet by the bottom)
- A frank breech is when the baby’s bottom is first and the feet are up by the head
- The footling breech is when one or both of baby’s feet are facing downward and will be born first
What Causes a Breech Birth?
There are a few things which make it more likely to have a breech birth. If you are having twins (or more!) then it is likely one of your babies will be in a breech position. The position of the placenta can also cause the baby to settle in a breech position.
How Do I know If I’m Having a Breech birth?
You won’t be able to tell if your baby is going to be breech until after 35 weeks of pregnancy. This is when the baby will start to get into the correct position for labour, but he can still decide to move up until he is born. At your midwife appointment, she will feel your abdomen to find out which position the baby is in. If she is unsure or thinks the baby is going to be breech she may send you for an ultrasound scan at the hospital. This will confirm the baby’s position so you can make plans for your labour.
How Do you Deliver a Breech Baby?
The safest position for vaginal delivery is when your baby’s head is facing downwards. If your baby is in the breech position you will need to discuss your delivery options with your midwife. They will look at your pregnancy and medical history to decide on your safest options. A caesarean is often recommended as this is considered the safest option for the baby. As caesareans have become the recommended option for breech births midwives now have little experience of natural breech birth. I was surprised by how many midwives watched my baby being delivered. They just had not had the opportunity to see a natural breech delivery.
How Do you Turn a Breech Baby?
Most babies will turn on their own before you reach full term pregnancy. If you reach the last few weeks and your baby is still in the breech position there are some things you can try:
- Some women have been able to turn there baby by side lying or spending time in the knee to chest position.
- Some women use acupuncture
- A chiropractor makes sure the mother is aligned correctly so the baby can turn into the head down position
- At 36 weeks you will be able to try ECV if you want to. During this procedure, the doctor will provide firm pressure on the outside of your body to encourage the baby to move into the head down position. This procedure doesn’t always work. It isn’t painful but can feel uncomfortable. There is a risk of bleeding to the placenta or causing distress to the baby. If this happens you will need to have a caesarean.
Are there Complications in a Breech Birth?
There is a risk of the baby getting stuck as they are delivered because the largest part of the baby (head) is being delivered last. There is also a risk or cord prolapse. This is when the umbilical cord drops into the vagina and then gets trapped by the baby. This can cause the baby to have a lack of oxygen. These complications are why you may want to consider a caesarean delivery.
Do Breech Babies have problems in later life?
There is a higher chance of a breech baby being born with developmental hip dysplasia. Also known as clicky hip. This is when the ball part of the thigh bone isn’t sitting fully in the hip socket. The baby has an ultrasound scan at 6 weeks to check for this. It is then treated to prevent problems later in life. Read about my baby’s experience of DHP and what we did to improve the condition in a new post coming soon.
If you have enjoyed reading this check out The complete guide to childbirth. I share all of my experiences of Childbirth including hypnobirthing, birthing ball and a TENS machine
A Surprise Breech Baby: My Labour Story
The first sign of my labour starting was when my waters broke. I went into the hospital and had an ultrasound to confirm that my baby was head down. Then I went home until my contractions became stronger and more regular. I managed the pain using my birthing ball, TENS machine and listening to my hypnobirthing track. A few hours later, we phoned the hospital to let them know I was ready to come in.
When I arrived at the hospital I and was rushed into a delivery room and the midwife said ‘I see a bottom’. That was the first time I knew I was having a breech baby. She had decided to do a somersault during labour! At this point, they expected me to have a caesarean. However, I had a fantastic midwife who gave me the opportunity to deliver the baby myself.
The baby was a complete breech and my second baby which made her easier to deliver. But I can honestly say it was not any more painful and she was delivered without any assistance. It was such a positive experience. I was very lucky that I had an experienced midwife that was able to let me try and deliver my baby naturally. Afterwards, so many midwives told me how unusual a natural breech birth is.
I hope this post has answered any questions you have about having a breech baby. My story shows that you can have a positive birthing experience and deal with any complication that happens. If you know your baby is breech then you can make an informed choice for your labour and delivery. Don’t forget to add them to your birth plan. However, you choose to deliver your baby the most important outcome is for them and you to be healthy.