Oh Shit, My Baby is Breech!

Just this past week I had a woman come to me as a new patient. She was two weeks postpartum and had some serious back pain.
Upon consulting with her, it was revealed that her left lower back pain had begun during her pregnancy (probably around months four or five). The current pain in her lower back was almost identical to the pain she experienced during her pregnancy.

Upon further investigation, I found out the new mom had a cesarean section because her baby presented as breech. The only thing the woman had done to address the breech presentation was acupuncture.

This situation with this new mother is all too familiar. There are many women out there that have babies that present as breech and end up with cesarean sections. I don’t know the percentages or numbers but I guarantee A LOT of these cesarean sections can be prevented.

Babies love to move around. They freely move around within the mother’s belly up until 30-32 weeks. By about the 32nd week in pregnancy, the baby has grown, and the space in which the baby moves around has become limited; therefore, the baby doesn’t move as much.

At around 31-32 weeks of pregnancy, one in three babies present as breech. Between weeks 34-36 most babies will turn head down. By birth, only about 3-4% of babies are breech.

Not the end of the world. Except for the fact, that the skill of delivering a breech baby is disappearing in the medical profession. In our modern, highly institutionalized and sterile, American society there very few (think like 1-2 in Los Angeles) that are skilled in breech delivery. As a result, having a breech vaginal birth is almost not an option.

Delivering a breech baby is no longer a skill taught in medical schools across the United States. Doctors and midwives can and should use a criteria to determine if a woman is a good candidate for breech vaginal delivery. Dr. Karin Blakemore, of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, said, ”There are well-known criteria for a safe vaginal breech birth.”

The real negative tone-setter for the breech situation came from the Term Breech Trial. This study, published in 2000, concluded that it’s better for a women to have a planned cesarean than a vaginal breech birth. This study was conducted only by ObGyns in a hospital setting.

Let me repeat. It was a cold, fluorescent environment. There were no midwives, no home births, and far too much drug and machine intervention. The women were wired up and flat on their back in a bed from the get go.

Not a desired situation to give birth if you ask me.

Enough with the history lesson.

A large amount of babies, 96-99%, will turn head down prior to birth. Yes, even in the last couple of weeks and days. The baby has an even high percentage of going head down when looking at full term pregnancies.

When, and if, a baby does not turn head down on his or her own, the reasoning can be for one of two reasons- structural or functional.

Structural reasons could be things like uterine malformations, fibroids, fetal abnormalities, multiple births, or even the location of the placenta.

Functional causes can include fixated lumbar spine and/or sacroiliac joints, hypertonic hip flexors and gluteus muscles that are not allowing the pelvis to expand naturally, and any other musculoskeletal issue that does not allow the pelvis to function dynamically.

I, along with many other chiropractors and healers, address the functional causes of breech. So, if your baby is breech, don’t stress. In fact, stress can be about the worst thing you can do.

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Yes, bring your attention to the situation and start to research your options. Bring awareness to the situation, and be proactive. The sooner you start to address the situation the higher chance the baby has at flipping.

What to do:

  • VISUALIZE and TALK. Spend a few minutes every day visualizing your baby turning. Spend time with your baby and talk to him/her. Let them know that it is okay to turn.
  • SOFT TISSUE THERAPY & CHIROPRACTIC. A chiropractor can balance the muscles, release ligament tension in the pelvis, and deliver adjustments to the set the body up for optimal structural alignment. This allows for your pelvis to function dynamically while walking and even during labor and delivery. An optimal, dynamically functioning pelvis allows your baby the most room to move.
  • Acupuncture. Moxibustion is a treatment offered by many acupuncturists. It is the process of burning an herbal incense around your little toes. This process stimulates movement in the baby almost immediately.
  • Posture. Pay attention to the way you sit, stand, walk, dance, etc. Try not to lean to one hip when standing.  Stand up tall. Now is the time to practice symmetry.
  • Essential oils. I’ve heard really positive feedback from women using peppermint oils on the top of their abdomen in conjunction with my treatments.
  • Inversions. Anything to get your booty/pelvis above your heart. If you are comfortable with handstands, then do them. If elevating your lower half with lots of pillows is more your style, then do it. Spinning Babies has a lot to offer.
  • Open Mind. Have an open mind. Understand that maybe all of this stuff won’t work. Maybe your baby has a different agenda. Maybe there is something structural going on that you don’t even know about. Either way, all of these tools will only enhance your birth experience.
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My point is this: Breech is not the end of the world or even the end of your dream birth. Breech is not a disease or sickness nor does it mean something is wrong with you or your baby. It is a presentation.

There numerous therapies and techniques used prior to birth and even during labor to help the woman maneuver her body and give birth safely to her baby.

Find doctors and therapists you love and trust. Build your DREAM TEAM!

-Lindsey

@GigEmLindsey

WORKOUT

Complete the following 3 Rounds:

800m Run or 1K Row

10 Power Clean & Jerk

MODIFICATION

  • This is easily a 18-25 minute workout and maybe longer. Think of it as a 5K or 10K.
  • Pick a weight for the Clean and Jerks that you can do 4 in a row. It will most likely turn into ones and dropping/guiding the bar down from the top.
  • Take your time, rest, and just find your pace for this workout.
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3 comments to " Oh Shit, My Baby is Breech! "
  • Please be careful judging too harshly. Saying things like, “I don’t know the percentages or numbers but I guarantee A LOT of these cesarean sections can be prevented.” Women already feel a huge amount of responsibility for the way births go when, in fact, almost everything is really out of their control! A woman can take care of herself and take some reasonable measures to get a baby in position, make sure she’s fit for labor, etc. But, if labor doesn’t go smoothly, it’s not because she didn’t do enough. This is a very dangerous and damaging lesson to teach. Please be careful about this!

    • Hi Jaswyth,I wanted to respond to you personally because after reading your comment on our blog I read your birth story on your own blog and I have quite a few things to say.

      First of all, I am a mother of 2 and have been teaching Hypnobirthing for over 5 years to over 400 couples. While HB is intended for couples who are planning an unmedicated birth, this can mean a variety of things for different people. I think you have the whole “natural birth movement” very wrong. Nobody expects anyone to have a certain kind of birth, and even if you choose to “go natural”, things happen. All the time. There’s a time and a place for an epidural. There’s a time and a place for a c section. Some births go off without a hitch. Some are complicated and require more intervention than others.

      The key to any sort of successful birth experience- medicated or not- is to be informed as much as possible, have a care provider that you trust, and be surrounded by a good support team. I think every woman should have a doula as we definitely can help prevent a lot of unecessary procedures and interventions. But that’s not what this is about, and most definitely nobody is saying you didn’t do all you could possibly do. This is about you.

      You are in a very fragile state right now. An unplanned c section is no joke. When my partner, LIndsey, said in her blog post that many of these c-sections can be prevented and are unecessary, that is absolutely and undoubtedly true. The c section rate in this country is near 40% with the WHO recommendation being 15%. This is, in no way, saying YOUR c section wasn’t warranted. And in no way are we ever “judging” anyone for their birth choices or outcomes. If you ask anyone I have ever worked with, the first thing they will say about my class is how non-judgemental I am and how much they appreciate that. I proudly carry this same sentiment into my BirthFit business as does Lindsey.

      You say “women feel a huge amount of responsibility for the way births go, when in fact, everything is really out of their control.” This is also false. Everything, barring emergency, is in your control. You have the right to say no. You have the right to ask questions. You have the right to refuse anything. This is definitely where a doula comes into play. We help navigate situations and help couples along the path toward the birth outcomes they desire. We help weigh pros and cons, risks and benefits, and provide lots of counsel. I know you wondered if you should have had a doula. Perhaps. But you didn’t. And that is ok. It is what it is. Childbirth is THE most unpredictable natural event we will ever be a part of. It’s important for you to process your birth and you definitely need to seek therapy from someone who can help you work through all of this. I am saying this from experience.

      I had postpartum depression that was near psychosis. As I read your blog it brought back some very familiar feelings as I remember wanting to kill myself every single day, not wanting to hold the baby, feeling like a terrible mother and that my family was better off without me. I cried non-stop, never slept, and was a hollow version of myself. This went on for about 2-3 months before I got on meds. The meds helped tremendously but Postpartum depression can last for 3 years.

      Right now you are looking for answers as to why this happened to you. You may never know why. Sometimes birth outcomes just are what they are. It’s not because of something you did or didn’t do. It’s not because you were weak or ill informed or didn’t have a doula. Sometimes Nature just has other plans for us.

      I look at that dark period in my life as a lesson and as something I was meant to go through so that I can help other women. I am very frank about my depression because most women are too ashamed to talk about it or think they are crazy and feel very alone. You will get through this. I promise. Motherhood is tough enough without having to battle PPD- and yes, I know your midwife said it is more of a PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) situation, but most PPD is actually PTSD nowadays. It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis, it only matters that you get help and know you are not alone and you are not to blame for what happened.

      If you decide to have another baby, it will be extremely important to not only have a good support person (doula) but also to do some work around your birth so that you can have a calm and peaceful experience the next time. Hypnobirthing is wonderful for people who have had birth trauma as we deal with underlying fears and replace our fearful and/or negative thoughts with positive and affirming ones. I have seen great success with moms who want to have VBACs when they use Hypnobirthing.

      On a final note, we aren’t “teaching” anything damaging or dangerous. From our combined experience, there is a lot of mis-information out there regarding birth, pregnancy, and postpartum. We aim to give women facts, resources, and support for whatever decisions they make.

      I wish you the very best.
      -Kat G.

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