The facts and myths about turning a breech baby
Your baby will twist and turn during pregnancy, and it is perfectly normal for that to happen. However, by the time you are in your 36th week of pregnancy, the baby should have moved down into the head-first position—the position where their head is pointing down. If this doesn’t happen, then the baby is said to be in breech position and your doctor may have to consider turning a breech baby.
What is a breech presentation?
A breech position is when the baby’s head isn’t pointing down when a woman is close to her due date.
There are different types of breech position to include:
• Complete breech
A complete breech is when the baby is positioned bottom-first with bent knees.
• Frank breech
With a Frank breech, the baby’s bottom usually points to the birth canal while the legs point straight up towards the baby’s head.
• Footling breech
With footling breech, turning a breech baby is necessary because one or both the baby’s feet will point at the birth canal.
What causes a breech presentation?
1. Fibroids or other growths in the uterus
2. Going into labour too early
3. Too much or too little amniotic fluid in the uterus
4. uterus with abnormal shape
5. when a woman is pregnant with multiple babies
6. Women who are diagnosed with placenta previa
How can you diagnose a breech presentation in pregnancy?
Women who attend regular ante-natal classes usually know early if the baby is in a breech position. The nurse, doctor or midwife can tell the position of the baby by placing their hand on the mom’s belly and feeling for the baby’s head, buttocks and back.
Also, it is possible to detect a breech presentation by using ultrasound or X-ray to weigh the options like vaginal delivery or turning a breech baby.
Turning a breech baby externally
At 36 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s head should already be pointing down. If this doesn’t happen, your healthcare provider may decide to guide the baby into the right position externally using ultrasound to make sure the baby is in the right position.
This procedure is preferable between 35 to 37 weeks of your pregnancy because:
• If something goes wrong when your doctor is turning a breech baby, then the baby is old enough to be delivered promptly
• At this point the baby is still small enough to maneuver
• The baby still has a lot of fluid in the amniotic sac
What to expect when turning a breech baby
Although this procedure is usually done with a medication that relaxes the muscles of the uterus, you will feel a little discomfort. Your doctor will work with ultrasound even though they are turning the breech baby externally. The doctor will push your pregnant belly to try and get the baby into the right position.
What happens when the breech baby doesn’t turn?
Failure to get the baby’s head down and pointing to the birth canal can result in finding other alternatives apart from a vaginal delivery. A caesarean section is usually one of the top options when turning a breech baby fails.
Additionally, it is quite possible to go into labour before your scheduled C-section. If this happens, there’s still a possibility of delivering the baby through a vaginal breech birth.
Facts and myths about breech babies
Myth: A baby will have birth defects if they are in a breech position
Fact: This is always not the case. The fact that your baby was not in the right position is not a sure sign that there will be problems. However, birth defects are not uncommon in breech babies.
Myth: It is impossible to deliver a baby vaginally if they are ever in a breech position
Fact: While some doctors prefer C-sections in these cases, some would actually attempt turning a breech baby to see if vaginal birth is still possible.
Myth: Hospitals don’t know what to do with a breech presentation.
Fact: it is not uncommon to find people who believe that turning babies is not the kind of thing doctors know how to do well. People who believe this myth prefer to take their concerns to people who most likely don’t have the training and qualifications to handle this procedure.