What to Do When Your Baby is Breech: Your Breech Pregnancy Step-by-Step Guide
When your baby is breech after 36 weeks, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure of turning your baby and researching delivery methods, while balancing doctor appointments and your life outside of pregnancy. If you’re struggling to keep up with the chaos of your breech pregnancy, then Mama, you’ve come to the right place.
When I found out that my baby was breech, all I wanted was a simple, step-by-step plan to help me figure out what I was supposed to do. That is the exact purpose of this breech pregnancy step-by-step guide. I want to help you cope with these next few weeks by breaking this process into smaller, more manageable steps. The clock is ticking to turn your baby, Mama. Let’s get you through these last couple weeks with a little clarity and peace of mind.
About the Breech Baby Series
First of all, let me tell you about the article you stumbled upon.
I’m Erin and my passion is helping moms-to-be and new moms overcome their baby blunders. This topic, breech babies, is very close to my heart.
I found out that my baby was when I was 36 weeks pregnant.
This discovery started a frantic race to turn my breech baby before 39 weeks or face a planned c-section. During this time, I was confused, disappointed, and a little scared. The research and articles on breech pregnancies are vast but overwhelming. But at the end of the day, I found the techniques that worked and turned my breech baby at 39 weeks.
That’s why I created this Breech Baby Series.
By the end of this series, I want you to have the best chance of turning your breech baby while being fully prepared (and confident!) to deal with the situations that will arise if that doesn’t happen.
Here are the other posts in the Breech Baby Series:
- Your Breech Baby: The Facts You Need to Know
- What to Do When Your Baby is Breech: Your Breech Pregnancy Step-by-Step Guide
- Turning a Breech Baby: 10 Ways to Turn a Breech Baby Naturally
- How to Tell if Your Baby is Breech : 10 Shocking Signs of a Breech Baby
- Breech Births: How You Can Deliver a Breech Baby
- Delivering a Breech Baby: The Facts About External Cephalic Versions
- Delivering a Breech Baby: The Pros and Cons of an External Cephalic Version vs. a C-section
- 25+ Resources You Need to See if Your Baby is Breech (Coming Soon!)
In the last post, we covered the basics about your breech baby, including the definition of breech presentation, breech positions, causes of a breech baby, and the complications associated with this condition. Now, we are going to tie all of that in and look at a clear plan with this breech pregnancy step-by-step guide.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. I only recommend what I trust. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions.
Using this Breech Pregnancy Step-by-Step Guide
Medical Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional of any type. I’m just an obsessive-compulsive person that loves order and clear-cut plans. Please do not take this as medical advice. This is how I coped with my breech pregnancy and while it worked for me, it may not work as well for you.
Breech Pregnancy Step-by-Step Guide: 10 Simple(ish) Steps for Coping with a Breech Presentation
Step 1: Begin Baby Turning Exercises
The moment you collect yourself from that fateful checkup, you need to begin these exercises. Most of the time, you have until week 39 to convince that baby to turn. After that, you will most likely need a planned c-section.
Begin inversion exercises immediately, since you are 100% confident that your baby is breech. After you practice inversion exercises for a couple days, you may begin to feel your baby move. This can make you question (rightfully so!) whether your baby is still breech. When you feel your baby begin to move, I would er on the side of caution and try non-inversion exercises until your next checkup.
Although most exercises to turn a breech baby require only household items, I highly, highly recommend that you two-day ship some moxa sticks and an exercise ball (if you don’t already have one). Moxibustion and hip rotations can be very effective for turning a breech baby.
Although this is step one of the breech pregnancy step-by-step guide, you’ll be practicing exercises about 3x a day until you’re completely sure that your baby has turned.
Related Post: How to turn a baby naturally: 10 ways to turn a breech baby after 36 weeks.
Step 2: Decide if You Want an ECV.
Your doctor or midwife has probably already recommended an external cephalic version. An ECV is a procedure used to manually turn your baby into the head-down position. It’s usually performed once your baby is full-term, between 37-38 weeks.
Deciding whether or not you want to pursue an ECV is not a cut and dry decision. There are several benefits and risks you need to consider, including your own personal circumstances. For example, I chose not to have an ECV because I was overweight, my placenta was anterior, and I was a new mom. All of these factors are known for lowering the success rate, which is only 50-50 (ish)in an ideal situation.
Your personal situation may be much different than mine so consider this procedure carefully. At best, an ECV can literally solve all of your breech baby ailments. At worst, it can create more.
If you’re really struggling, check out my article on External Cephalic Versions. I’m not a doctor, but I tried to list out all of the resources, benefits, and risks I could find on the subject.
Related Post: Delivering a Breech Baby: External Cephalic Version
Step 3: Visit a Chiropractor or Massage Therapist
I can’t stress enough how important this step is. If you work a desk job or if you have EVER been in a car accident, get to the chiropractor ASAP. If you have severe hip or lower back pain, that can be a symptom of an SI belt issue or a torqued hip. Both are known for causing a breech baby.
Still not convinced?
Chiropractic treatment used with moxibustion can increase your chances of turning your breech baby by 80%! Even if a visit to the chiropractor isn’t covered under your insurance, it is well worth the cost (if only to relieve some of that pregnancy back pain!).
Many doctors believe that a breech presentation may result from an immature, malformed, or narrow hips. It makes sense. As your baby grows, he naturally moves to the most comfortable position. If there is something off with your hips, he may be uncomfortable or unable to engage.
Try to find a chiropractor that is Webster Certified. This technique was specifically developed to adjust your sacral alignment and encourage your baby into the correct position.
A massage therapist can also be extremely helpful as well. Sometimes, a breech presentation can be caused by tense muscles and stress. Massage therapy will loosen your muscles and correct any misalignment.
Related Post: 8 Sneaky Ways to Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy
Step 4: Research Breech Delivery Options
If your baby doesn’t turn by 39 weeks, you have two options: deliver your breech baby naturally or have a planned c-section. If you live in the U.S., most likely you’re limited to a planned c-section. This depends entirely on the medical professionals in your area. The chances of fetal morbidity are slim, between 2-9/1000, but it’s enough to discourage many doctors from ever attempting a breech birth.
After I opted out of an ECV, I resigned to having a c-section. It was actually during my planned c-section prep that the doctors discovered that my daughter had turned!
I never considered a c-section before I found out that my baby was breech. My family is built for making (and birthing) babies. The idea of having a c-section hit me hard. Of all of the things I failed at in life, I really didn’t believe that giving birth would be one of them.
Mama, please don’t believe this lie.
You can still have a beautiful birth, even with a c-section. A gentle c-section can still give your baby (and you!) the benefits of a vaginal birth.
Secondly, you’ve gone through 9 months of crazy mood swings, aches and pains, and careful planning all for the sake of your unborn baby. Trust me, you are not a failure.
Related Post: Delivering a Breech Baby: External Cephalic Version vs. a C-Section
A Breech Birth
For hundreds of years, midwives were trained in the art of assisting with breech births. In this past century, studies indicated that a breech birth posed a larger risk for babies. Because of this, many medical professionals steer away from breech births altogether.
However, there are still some midwives and doctors that specialize in the field. For many women, a breech birth can be a safe, amazing delivery option. Just make sure you find a provider that is 100% confident with this procedure, and evaluate your risks beforehand.
A final note on preparing for your delivery:
You might be wondering, “What happens if I go into labor when my baby is breech?”
Just keep your hospital bag ready! Make sure it contains the necessities for both a breech birth and a c-section, including any medical records for your baby. There’s a small chance that labor is the final push your baby needs to turn head-down.
Short on time? PIN IT for later!
Step 4: Rework that Birth Plan
If you have to consider a planned c-section, creating a new birth plan can make you feel in control and at peace.
So, think about those things you really wanted in your vaginal birth plan. Did you imagine lavender essential oil, yoga music, and a doula? You can still have that, Mama. Many, many providers are more than happy to make accommodations for your c-section, especially when it’s planned.
There’s not a lot of fun things about a breech pregnancy. I know that feeling when all of your carefully planned dreams are shattered. So when you evolve your plans and create a new goal, it can often give you focus during all of this chaos.
Step 5: Choose C-Section Surgeon
On that note, you really need to research your surgeon for the c-section. If you’re planning a gentle c-section, you may want to consider a surgeon that is actually on board with that. Some surgeons are cut and dry, no funny business types. These surgeons will be much less willing to make accommodations for delayed cord clamping or instant skin-to-skin contact.
And, while we’d like to believe that all surgeons are created equal, it’s nice to research the guy (or gal) that is going to be cutting us open, right?
If you’re at a loss of where to start your research, start by asking your midwife or doctor (if he/she isn’t the surgeon, that is) about your options. Bring up your concerns. You can then cross-reference those surgeons with healthgrades.com or Google reviews. If the doctor is part of a larger network, often times they will have a bio listed on the parent site. This is a good way to get a feel for the doctor’s methodology and personality.
Step 6: Go to the Anatomy Scan
Even if you’re on the fence about an ECV, I would still attend the recommended anatomy scan and possibly a non-stress test. An anatomy scan is usually performed for two reasons:
- Identify the exact position of your breech baby
- Determine if your baby is even a candidate for an ECV.
The anatomy scan can tell you how big your baby is (which is very important if you plan on having a breech birth), measure how much amniotic fluid you have, confirm that there are no defects and that the cord is not in a precarious position.
These details may help clarify what your next course of action should be.
Step 7: Perform the ECV
If you do opt for an ECV, you will most likely have it between weeks 37-38. Before going to your appointment, you need to prepare for a couple scenarios:
- Your baby turns head-down and you can say bye-bye to your breech pregnancy.
- The ECV was unsuccessful and your baby is still breech. This might be because your baby displayed signs of fetal distress, or she just wasn’t working with the doctor. In any case, you can usually have a second ECV performed at a later date, at the discretion of your doctor.
- The absolute worst case scenario: there are complications during the ECV and you have an emergency c-section.
There is a bonus scenario. In rare situations, your doctor may induce you after the procedure to ensure that you can give birth before your feisty baby decides to turn again.
Step 8: After 38 Weeks Reassess Your Baby’s Location
Whether you had an ECV at week 38 or not, you need to redetermine your baby’s location. If all is going well with your moxibustion sessions and exercises, she may have turned. This late in the game, there’s a good chance you’ll feel it when she does, but sometimes a smaller baby with plenty of amniotic fluid can ninja it out while you’re sleeping.
If you’re starting to doubt your baby’s position and you still have a couple days until your next appointment, just avoid inversion exercises and long periods of sitting.
Step 9: After Baby Has Turned Practice for Labor
If your baby has turned then give yourself a big pat on the back. You have accomplished something truly amazing. Against all the odds, you’ve turned a breech baby. This is no small thing!
But now’s not the time to “rest” on your laurels. There’s a good chance that, even though that baby has turned head-down, he could be posterior. If your baby is posterior, he’s facing outward, instead of toward your spine (which allows him to tuck his chin into his chest during birth).
I skipped this step after I turned my breech baby and it ruined my natural labor and almost forced me to get a c-section–even after all of my hard work!
Why is a posterior position so bad?
I’ll go over that in more detail in my post, How to Turn a Posterior Baby for an Easier Labor, but basically, a posterior baby represents a harder, longer, labor. Think of it as trying to fit an oval through a circular hole. It’s possible, but the oval has to be tilted just the right way. Now, that’s a terrible analogy (probably because I was terrible at geometry…), but try to imagine what I’m saying. When your baby goes through the birth canal, he tucks his chin into his chest, which allows his head to make it under the pelvis.
A posterior baby simply enters the birth canal through the wrong angle and becomes hindered by the pelvis. It’s possible to give birth to a posterior baby (depending on your anatomy), but it’s also a lot harder. In order to prevent this situation, you need to continue your positioning exercises (except for inversion and the breech tilt!) and become familiar with labor exercises used to birth posterior babies.
Step 10: How to Avoid a Breech Presentation in Pregnancy
Some women are just naturally prone to having breech babies. Studies have shown that women with one breech baby are more likely to have more.
While you can’t completely beat mother nature, it’s still a good idea to prepare however you can. Mild exercise and great alignment is the best cure for a breech baby.
Here are some ideas you can try to prevent a breech presentation in the future:
- See a chiropractor to eliminate any alignment issues
- Focus on your fitness before your next pregnancy
- Remain physically active during your pregnancy
- Practice hip rotations (especially if you’re not able to exercise)
- If you have to sit, use an exercise ball or sit Indian-style (keep your hips open)
- Use excellent posture
- Drink lots of water
- Practice Prenatal Yoga
There you have it, Mama! These are actionable steps that you can use TODAY to help you cope with your breech pregnancy in a positive way.
A word from the other side: You and your baby are going to be okay. One way or another, you’ll be holding that silly, feisty breech baby in your arms very soon. If this post helped you then please let me know in the comments below! Better yet, if you have any breech pregnancy wisdom, please share it!
Now that you have an action plan in place, let’s work to flip that baby! Let’s get to it!
Next Post: Turning a Breech Baby: 10 Ways to Turn a Breech Baby Naturally