Why Babies Go Breech and 5 Things you can do about it.

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Babies are typically head down in the mother’s womb; however, sometimes they flip with their head up and their bum down. There are three different types of breech positions:

Frank: This is when the baby’s bum is facing down towards the woman’s birth canal with the feet sticking straight up by the baby’s head.

Complete: This is where the baby’s bum is facing down towards the woman’s birth canal but the baby’s legs are folded up near the belly and bum.

Footling: This is where one or both of the baby’s feet are almost standing on the cervix pointing down towards the birth canal.

Before the year of 2000, breech delivery was not viewed as it is today. Women were given the choice to deliver breech or delivery via Cesarean. There was a study performed in 2001. This study had some flaws, but due to this study (flaws and all), breech delivery started to disappear. In fact, training for breech delivery is no longer being taught in medical school. Care providers can’t fully answer why delivering breech is unsafe. In most cases, women are no longer given an option for the type of delivery they desire.

Why Babies Go Breech

Unfortunately, there is no exact known reason or cause as to why babies go breech. However, there are some studies that show it may be related to things like abnormal shape of the uterus, growths such as fibroids, placenta previa, multiple fetuses, and pelvis injuries, etc. A blog post written by Rebecca Deckker states that that breech position is present in 3-4% of term pregnancies (Dekker, 2018). Typically when a baby is in a breech position, it is before 28 weeks gestation, but babies still can turn to the breech position after this point.

What can you do to turn a breech baby?

When a baby turns breech, an ECV, or External Cephalic Version should be offered. This is when the provider will manually try and turn the baby from the outside, by placing his or her hands on the mother's abdomen and manually rotating the baby to a head down position.

This sounds really uncomfortable, and it is.

My son (my VBA2C baby) went breech a few times in pregnancy. When my provider performed an ECV, I can’t say it was the most comfortable thing I have ever done, but I will tell you it wasn’t as bad as some may describe. I had to breathe through it, but it was 100% manageable and SO worth it.

In addition to an ECV, there are things you can do to encourage a breech baby to turn:

Spinning Babies is a series of movements and positions that you do daily and weekly to get that baby flipping head down.

Moxibustion is a form of Chinese medicine involving burning an herb close to your fifth toe that shows great promise in encouraging babies to flip.

The Miles Circuit is a great way to keep that baby head down after it turns as well as encouraging it to turn.

Chiropractic Care by a Webster trained chiropractor has been shown to greatly improve the position of a poorly positioned baby including encouraging a breech baby to turn.

Acupuncture is another form of Chinese medicine that will encourage a baby to turn. Use it in tandem with Moxibustion for the best results.

Is it safe to deliver a breech baby?

In 2018, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released a new bulletin on this very topic. They state that the number of skilled providers these days that can deliver breech has gone down. They go on to say that the trend of C-sections being performed due to breech position has gone up, and they believe that the mode of delivery (delivering breech vaginally or Cesarean) should be considered by the mother's wishes.

ACOG makes the following recommendations:

  1. “The decision regarding the mode of delivery should consider patient wishes and the experience of the health care provider.

  2. “Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should offer external cephalic version as an alternative to planned cesarean for a woman who has a term singleton breech fetus, desires a planned vaginal delivery of a vertex-presentation fetus, and has no contraindications. External cephalic version should be attempted only in settings in which cesarean delivery services are readily available.

  3. “Planned vaginal delivery of a term singleton breech fetus may be reasonable under hospital-specific protocol guidelines for eligibility and labor management.

  4. "If a vaginal breech delivery is planned, a detailed informed consent should be documented—including risks that perinatal or neonatal mortality or short-term serious neonatal morbidity may be higher than if a cesarean delivery is planned.

"There is a trend in the United States to perform cesarean delivery for term singleton fetuses in a breech presentation.” Notice that ACOG uses the word "trend" to define automatically preforming a C-section for breech babies?

It is time to take a stand! Ladies, if you desire to deliver vaginally and your baby has gone breech, be sure that the above options have been discussed/performed, and your options have been given to you. If your care provider does not deliver breech, don’t be scared to search for one that does. Like the provider states in the “heads up” video/article: we need to take action YESTERDAY! Breech births may not be for everyone, but informed decision making is.​

Download your FREE printable VBAC birth affirmations here.

Check out episode 33 on our podcast for a story about Jenna and her breech babies. You do NOT want to miss this one!

Episode 4 shares the story of Chelsey who had a breech VBA2C!

Did you know? We offer online VBAC preparation classes and VBAC Doula Certification. Click here to learn more and book now!!

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