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Breech Baby
Help! My Baby is Breech!

You may feel a bump here, a protrusion there, as you rub your belly, but do you know how your baby is positioned? Most babies at this point are upside down, head snuggly settled into your pelvis, which is the usual position for birth. However, a small percentage of babies (about 4%) are head up at full term, known as breech.

If you’re worried that a breech baby means he or she is unhealthy, or must be delivered by C-section, there’s hope. A breech baby is not necessarily any less healthy than a normally presented baby, though there is some indication that a birth defect keeps the baby from turning.

Though many breech babies are delivered by C-section, yours may be able to be delivered vaginally depending on your health and the baby’s presentation. There have been many cases where at the last minute, the baby has flipped over on his or her own, as if he or she decided it was high time to be born.

When Is Breech More Common? 
There are many scenarios that tend to result in a breech presented baby. If your uterus is unusually shaped, if you have an excess amount of amniotic fluid, if you’re carrying multiple babies, or carrying a smaller than average baby, he or she may present breech. Of course, your baby could be unique and just decide he or she wants to enter the world with a little pizzazz. In any case, a breech baby has an excellent chance of being delivered safely, by C-section or possibly by vaginal delivery.

When Is Vaginal Birth Safe For A Breech Baby? 
The most common and easiest breech presentation to deliver is the frank breech position. In this position, the baby’s bottom is presented first, with the feet and legs stretched upward toward the ears and face. About 60-70% of breech babies present this way. The other breech positions—crossed-legs, feet first or kneeling—are less common and more difficult to deliver vaginally. Make sure your doctor has had experience delivering breech births, and discuss the options before the big day arrives so you’re fully informed.

What Is ECV? 
If your baby is still breech by next week (week 37) your doctor may recommend trying to turn the baby with external cephalic version (ECV.) Basically, your doctor will try to turn the baby externally using pressure on your abdomen. You will be offered medication to relax the uterus and ultrasound may be used to monitor the baby’s progress. This procedure is successful 55% of the time. Transverse pregnancies (where the baby is lying sideways) have an almost 100% success rate of turning to a head-down presentation.

There are reasons why a doctor may not try to attempt ECV. If you’re carrying twins, have experienced bleeding or placental problems, or if there isn’t enough amniotic fluid your doctor may not recommend attempting ECV.

Chiropractic Methods 
The Webster Technique uses chiropractic care to relax the ligaments and realign the pelvic area to make it easier for a breech baby to turn on their own. Named after the late Dr. Larry Webster, there is an 80% success rate in getting babies to turn to a normal presentation. You might want to ask your Ob/Gyn about this method, to see if you’re a candidate.

Having a breech baby doesn’t mean you must have a c-section, though you might want to prepare yourself for the procedure, just in case. You can also try the different methods listed above to see if your baby will turn to normal presentation. In any case, it won’t be long before your little one enters the world!

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