signs of breech baby
Motherhood

Signs of Breech Baby: The Ultimate Guide 2021

There are many complications that can occur during pregnancy. You might be in your ninth month of pregnancy thinking that you are safe. But, problems can arise during delivery and during the ninth month of pregnancy like a breech baby and preeclampsia. Breech babies can flip your birth plan upside down and you may not have a choice on how you want to deliver your baby. The most important thing to keep in mind at that time is choosing what is best for you and your baby. No matter how you deliver a baby, the best delivery is the one whose outcome is a healthy mom and baby. So, let’s get to it. What are some signs of breech baby and what can I do about it?

In this post, the following will be discussed.

  • What is breech baby?
  • Signs of Breech Baby
  • How to turn breech baby?
  • How to deliver breech babies?
  • Do breech babies have problems?

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself. This post contains affiliate links that should add no additional cost to you.  I may earn a small commission.

*This is just for educational purposes, it is not medical advice. Please ask your doctor any questions you have. I am not a doctor.

What is breech baby?

signs of breech baby

  • Definition of Breech Baby

A breech baby is a baby whose head is upward towards the ribs. It is considered a breech baby if the baby does not flip downward towards the birth canal ( baby’s bottom upward) by 36 weeks of pregnancy. This happens in three to four percent of pregnancies. Almost twenty-five percent of babies are head up during the 28th week of pregnancy. SO, your baby may still have a chance to turn head down before delivery. 

If you want it in simple terms, it is baby positioned incorrectly for labor. 

  • Difference Between Cephalic and Breech Baby

The cephalic position is the normal position when the baby is facing the back and his head points towards the mom’s cervix. In the breech position, the head is found in the upper part of the uterus and the butt is pointing towards the mom’s cervix. In a normal pregnancy, the baby will automatically turn into the cephalic position by 36 weeks of pregnancy. 

The best presentation for a baby is occiput anterior. That means your baby’s head is down, and its face is toward your back and the chin is facing towards the chest. This is the best easiest position for delivery. 

Sometimes babies are head down but they are facing your tummy. This is called occiput posterior. Even though the baby is head down, complications may still arise. Forceps and c-section risks are more likely in occiput posterior than in occuput anterior. 

  • Types of Breech Positions

– Frank Breech: A frank breech is the most common breech position. In this position, the baby’s bottom is pointing towards the mom’s birth canal and the feet are straight. The baby’s head is in the upper part of the uterus. Both the baby’s feet and head are near each other. This position is also known as the extended breech position. 

-Complete Breech: In a complete breech position, the baby’s bottom is also facing the mom’s birth canal. Its legs would be bent at the knee and facing towards the birth canal. The baby’s head is in the upper part of the uterus.

-Incomplete Breech: In an incomplete breech, the baby’s feet or one foot faces downward towards the birth canal, and it would come out first before the baby’s body. This is also known as footling breech.

  • Causes

Many types of research are done to see why breech babies occur. The cause is actually unknown. Even the reason why in 97 percent of pregnancies the baby turns downward is unknown. But, some believe there are factors that increase the risk for a breech baby. Some of these factors include pregnancy with multiples, consecutive pregnancies (or more than one pregnancy),  women who have placenta previa, an abnormal amount of amniotic fluid, or women who have had previous premature births, or it is simply found in your family. Sometimes abnormalities in the uterus, whether the shape of the uterus is abnormal or there are fibroids in the uterus, can also increase the risk of breech babies. Also, the umbilical cord could be wrapped around your baby or short not allowing it to move into the correct position. The baby’s hips may also be not mature enough. 

  • How is it diagnosed?

Signs of breech baby do not confirm your baby is actually breeched. Most likely you wouldn’t even know your baby is breech until your doctor performs an exam. She may touch your stomach to see if she can feel the baby’s head position and she may also do an ultrasound to confirm that the baby is head down. Only ultrasound can guarantee your baby is in the correct position and it should be done around 36 weeks of pregnancy. Only through ultrasound can you confirm if the signs of breech baby you had were actually signs.

Did you know that 97-99 percent of breech babies turn head down by labor day? But, always keep in mind that you may have to change your birth plan if the baby does not turn. 

  • Complications

There are no complications for a breech baby before it is born. It is actually perfectly healthy in the womb of a woman. But, there will be problems when delivering the baby. The baby needs to be face down with the chin towards the chest to be able to be delivered vaginally without complications. When the baby is in a breech position, the baby’s head may get stuck (fatal head entrapment) and the oxygen may stop moving through the umbilical cord if it gets stuck. Sometimes something called cord prolapse can occur. Cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord drops below the baby and gets compressed. This would lead to an emergency and is a big complication. 

 Signs of Breech Baby

signs of breech baby

Some signs will be listed, but keep in mind a doctor must perform an ultrasound to detect if your baby is in breech position or not. Even if it is in breech position, it may turn naturally as days go by. Here are some signs of breech baby.

  • There is a hard spot under your rib cage. Touch it. If it moves, it is most likely the baby’s bottom and that is a great sign your baby is in the normal position. If it doesn’t move, it may be the head  of the baby which is a sign of a breech baby. 
  • Rib Cage Pressure: The skull is very hard and may create pressure on the ribs. You may have a hard time breathing with all the pressure placed on your upper portion of your body and on your lungs. When the baby drops, women usually report feeling some kind of relief as if they can breathe better. 
  • Your baby is high. If your baby does not drop until the lower pelvic area, it could be a sign of a breech baby. But, keep in mind, that sometimes new mommies don’t notice the drop until right before labor or if baby is posterior.
  • Kicks in the lower abdominal area and punches in the upper abdominal area. This is a very common and noticeable sign.
  • Your lower pelvic area is squishy rather than hard. That is because your baby’s head is not in your lower pelvic area. Your doctor would gently place her hand on your lower pelvic area to test if they feel the baby’s head. 
  • Baby’s hiccups are felt in the upper abdominal area. Yous should feel them in the lower pelvic are if in a normal position. 
Signs your breech baby is not breech…
  • Hiccups of baby is felt below the belly button. 
  • There is a soft spot in rib cage that moves when your touch it. 
  • You feel lots of pain and pressure down in the lower pelvic area. 
  • Feeling kicks by the rib cage. 
  • You feel small movements in the lower pelvic area. 
  • You can feel a hard spot in the lower pelvic area. 

How to turn breech babies?

There are several ways you could naturally turn the baby into the cephalic presentation. 

  • External Cephalic Version

This is done in a clinic or hospital by a professional doctor and may take only five minutes to be done. The doctor monitors the baby’s vital signs and uses an ultrasound to guide his/her hands in a way to turn the baby into the right position. The vital signs of the baby will be taken before, during, and after an ECV. But, this is very painful and you may be given an epidural if you want it. This does not always succeed, unfortunately. It has a success rate of about 50 percent, and sometimes babies flip back to breech position.

This would be done between 35-38 weeks of pregnancy. ECV is typically safe to do, but it may come with risks. It may cause some type of bleeding in the uterus or a problem to the placenta. But, the complication should occur within one day after the ECV was done.  

But, sometimes breech babies cannot be turned by external cephalic version. If you are carrying multiples, have placental abruption, your baby has other health issues, or you have uterus abnormalities, you are most likely not going to be offered an ECV. Sometimes more than one ECV is done; it really depends on whether your doctor is comfortable doing it or not. 

  • Forward-Leaning Position Inversion

Some women are asked to lean forward and rock back and forth for fifteen minutes. This will help the baby get into the correct position. 

  • Chiropractics

A chiropractor can help align the pelvic in order to make enough space for the baby to turn naturally. A chiropractor cannot turn the baby, but he/she can help the baby turn on its own. They align the pelvic in a way to help the body decrease the stress on the uterus and increase the connection between the brain of the mom and her uterus. This is also known as the Webster Technique

  • Breech Tilt

A pelvic tilt is the same as the breech tilt. Lay down on the floor. You raise your hips upward with legs bent at the knee and feet on the ground. 

  • What sleeping position would help turn breech baby?

You should sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees and ankles. This will give the baby enough room to turn.  Sleep on the left side and allow your abdomen to touch the bed. 

  • Walking

Walking may help the baby turn. Walk every day for about an hour. The gravity will help the baby turn and move downward into the pelvic area. 

  • Other Ways

Try to connect with your baby. Massage your tummy gently and try to relax and meditate. These may help!

Watch these helpful videos!

How are breech babies delivered?

Breech babies can be delivered in two ways if the breech baby has not been successfully turned into the correct presentation. 

  • Vaginal Breech Birth

Vaginal Breech Birth is risky. Many things can go wrong like the baby’s head gets trapped or extends. Some women may not know that their baby is breech until delivery so vaginal birth would be the only option. An ultrasound should have been done at 36 weeks to confirm that the baby has flipped, but some doctors fail to do this. Make sure you tell your doctor to check if your baby has flipped or not.  It is possible to deliver a breech baby safely, but it must be done by professional experienced midwives and nurses. 

Many midwives feel it is best to do a cesarean section because of the risks. So, there are many doctors not trained to vaginally deliver a breech baby. But, as you know, many women today are choosing to deliver babies vaginally even if their babies are breech. Again, this is possible. There are three things doctors need to keep in mind during a vaginal breech birth.

The first thing is the doctor should use the hands-off-breech method. This method suggests that the doctor should not do any vaginal exams or prevent the mother from sitting on her baby. The second thing is the knee-elbow position. Mom should get on all fours and move as her body tells her whether it is back and forth or some other way. This would help the baby move down with gravity. The third thing is to leave the cord intact and cut it off after the placenta is out. 

A vaginal breech delivery does not hurt more than normal vaginal birth, but it does have a higher rate of mom morbidity. Sometimes, doctors prefer you getting an epidural before a vaginal breech birth in case you need an emergency c-section done afterward. 

If complications arise…

Sometimes complications arise, so doctors need to do several maneuvers to help deliver the baby. Some include flexing the knees of the baby, Lovset’s Maneuver, and Mauriceau Smellie Veit Maneuver. Flexing the knees will help deliver the legs of the baby. Lovset’s Maneuver involves rotating the baby’s bottom to deliver the shoulders then the arms. MSV maneuver involves the flexion of the head. This is very difficult to do so sometimes doctors have to use forceps to get the baby out. 

  • Cesarean Section

This is the suggested way to deliver a breech baby. If you or your doctor choose to deliver the breech baby via c-section, it should be done at 39 weeks of pregnancy. Your baby would be full-term. Incisions in the abdomen and the uterus are made to deliver the baby. You should not feel pain during a c-section because you would be given an epidural or a spinal block that would numb your waist down. You would not be able to see the incision because your doctor would cover your abdominal area until the baby is born. Sometimes, your water may break or you may go into labor before your planned c-section. You should call the hospital or your doctor right away if this happens.

Or, sometimes you can wait until you go into labor before wanting to do the surgery. You just need to talk to your doctor about it. Just because you have one c-section, that does not mean you have to always have a c-secection. Vaginal births are possible after a c-section. If you can’t decide how to have your baby, just talk to your doctor about your concerns and see what is best for you and your baby. 

If you would like to know more about C-Sections, click here

  • Do breech babies have problems?

Breech babies can have life long problems. Since vaginal delivery can pose risks. breech babies may have different problems as a consequence. Or, sometimes breech babies fail to turn because of certain problems like birth defects. 

  • If cord prolapse occurs, the baby’s brain will not get enough oxygen throughout the birth, and this causes many problems. Many problems can arise from lack of oxygen especially problems within the brain of the baby. One problem that can arise is autism.
  • Structural Problems: Since the baby may get stuck in the birth canal, the baby may get hurt during delivery. For example, the best way for a baby to be delivered is headfirst because the skull is not sensitive. The rest of the body is easily breakable. So delivering the head last can cause muscle coordination problems and spinal cord problems. 
  • Some believe those who have chromosomal problems are also more likely to be breeched. The baby may have a higher risk for birth defects, but many are born perfectly healthy. 
  • If a baby is in breech position with one or both legs extended rather than bent at the knees, problems in the hip can occur. 

Would you like to more than the signs of breech baby? Have you read these? You might enjoy them!

Check out these postpartum must-haves!

In Conclusion

If you think something is wrong, trust yourself and look for the signs. Ask your doctor about any concerns you may have! Comment why you think you have a breech baby, and I will give you my opinion! Let’s support one another. How did you turn your baby from breech position to a normal head down position. 

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