What is a breech baby?
Under normal circumstances between 28 – 32 weeks the baby sinks down, head first into the pelvis in preparation for birth. At the end of pregnancy, around 35-36 weeks most babies settle into a head-down position, ready for birth. This is also called a ‘vertex’ or ‘cephalic’ position.
Around 15% of all babies will be in a breech position which means the baby is positioned bottom-down late in pregnancy. The majority of breech babies will turn spontaneously before birth.There are 3 main types of breech position. All of them involve the baby being in a bottom-down, head up, position.
Some of the reasons your baby might be breech are:
- low lying placenta
- too much or too little amniotic fluid
- unusual uterus shape
- uneven abdominal or pelvic tension
The variations of breech include:
- Frank Breech – the baby’s legs are straight up in front of its body in a V shape, so its feet are up near its face.
- Complete or Flexed Breech – the baby is in a sitting position with its legs crossed in front of its body and its feet near its bottom.
- Footling Breech – one or both of the baby’s feet are hanging below its bottom, so the foot or feet are coming first.
How do I know my baby is in a breech position?
When you have your check-ups at the end of your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will palpate your abdomen. This way they can assess which position your baby has settled into.If they suspect your baby might be in a breech position, they can confirm this with an ultrasound scan.
What does it mean when my baby is in a breech position?
While you’re pregnant, it is no problem for your baby to be in a breech position. There are no long-term effects on children who were in a breech position during pregnancy. However birthing a breech baby is often more challenging. Most babies that are breech are born by planned cesarean delivery. A vaginal birth of a breech baby may be considered in some situations. This depends on your individual circumstances, the type of breech position your baby is in, and the skills of the doctors and midwives available to you.
What are my options?
Many women are keen on trying to avoid a caesarian section and there are a few things you can try:
Acupuncture & Moxibustion: Traditional Chinese Medicine uses moxibustion (moxa), an externally applied treatment using a herbal stick that is lit and held over acupuncture points on the feet. The heat that is produced stimulates the point. It encourages the baby to become more active and turn around. It is common to experience an increase in the babies movement during and after the treatment. This is a technique that can be safely applied at home after getting instructions during a consultation. Moxibustion should be applied (at home) for 15 minutes daily for 10 consecutive days. After that the situation should be reassessed by your practitioner. Moxibustion treatment should be stopped as soon as the woman knows for sure that her baby has turned. The earlier we can start treatment the better the results. When the baby continues to grow the available space within the uterus reduces resulting in less room for the baby to turn. Regular acupuncture sessions can also be a great support for women with breech babies. Most women report it to be very relaxing and it also often increases the babies movements.
Osteopathy: Your osteopath will use techniques that are called “Optimal Maternal Positioning” and “Spinning Babies”. These are aimed to correct the tension in the pelvic ligaments plus the muscles and joints around the pelvis. This gives the baby more space to turn on their own. The Osteopath doesn’t actually spin the baby, but will create the optimal conditions for the baby to turn by itself.
Spinning Babies: this website is a great resource for when you have a breech baby. It contains exercises and specific activities to try.
What treatments are offered at Natural Solutions Acupuncture for breech babies?
At Natural Solutions Acupuncture we can provide Acupuncture treatments and we will teach you how to use the moxa at home. The moxa treatment needs to be done every day so it’s easier done in the comfort of your home. We also have an Osteopath available who is extensively trained in the above techniques. Often a combination of these treatments is the recommend way to go.