Usually a few weeks before birth, most babies will move into delivery position, with their head moving near the birth canal. If this does not happen, the baby's buttocks and/or feet, will be in place to be delivered first. This is called a breech presentation. Breech births occur in about 1 of 25 full-term births.
What are the different types of breech presentations?
What causes a breech presentation?
The causes of breech presentations are not fully known. However, a breech birth is more common when women have:
How is a breech presentation diagnosed?
A few weeks prior to the due date, the doctor may place his/her hands on the mother's lower abdomen to locate the baby's head, back, and buttocks. If the doctor thinks the baby is in a breech position, an ultrasound may be used to confirm. Special X-rays can also determine the baby's position, and measure the pelvis to determine if a vaginal delivery of a breech baby may be attempted.
Can a breech presentation mean something is wrong?
Most breech babies are born healthy. However, they do have a higher risk for certain problems than babies born head first. Birth defects are slightly more common in breech babies. A birth defect may be the reason they have not moved into the right position before birth.
Can a breech presentation be changed?
The best time to try to turn a breech baby is between 32-37 weeks of pregnancy. There are many different types of methods to use and all have different levels of success. Talk with your health care provider on which options they feel would be best for you to try.
External version is a non-surgical method in which a doctor can help move the baby within the uterus. A medication to help relax the uterus might be given as well as an ultrasound exam, to better check the position of the baby, the location of the placenta, and the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus. Gentle pushing on the lower abdomen can turn the baby into the head-down position. Throughout the external version, the baby's heartbeat will be checked closely so that if any problems should occur, the doctor will stop turning immediately. Most attempts at external version are successful; however as the due date gets closer this procedure is more difficult.
The late Larry Webster, D.C., of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, developed a technique which enabled chiropractors to release stress on the pregnant woman's pelvis and cause relaxation to the uterus and surrounding ligaments. The relaxed uterus would make it easier for a breech baby to turn naturally. The technique is known as the Webster Breech Technique.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue that 82% of doctors using the Webster Technique reported success. Further, the results from the study suggest that it may be beneficial to perform the Webster Technique in the 8th month of pregnancy.
The following two techniques often suggested by Physical Therapist, Penny Simkin, are things you can try at home for free, with no risks involved.
The Breech Tilt
Raise hips 12' or 30cm off the floor using large, solid pillows three times daily for 10-15 minutes each time. This is best done on an empty stomach,and at a time when your baby is active. Concentrate on your baby and not tensing your body, especially in the abdomen area.