What is a breech baby?
First off, it’s not the end of the world, so don’t go into panic mode. A breech baby is a variation of normal. So please remember that as you’re talking to your birth team, family and friends.
When a baby goes into the breech position, it simply means that they’re positioned either bum or feet down, rather than head down. While it’s not the most ideal position, and it does often create a bit of a stir, it’s still entirely possible to birth a breech baby vaginally. Plenty of women do so, and in the UK around 25% of breech babies are only diagnosed during labour.
Why does a baby go breech?
Like most things in the human body, nobody really knows the answer to this question for definite. People have noticed a few different physiologic factors, including:
- being born prematurely – it tends to be later in the pregnancy that babies go head down, so a baby born earlier may not have had the time to turn
- low lying placenta – this can prevent the breech baby from getting his/her head in the right position
- cord wrapped around the baby – if the umbilical cord is short, or wrapped around the baby, then it might be that choosing the breech position is the intelligent thing for the baby to do
- athletic mothers with a super tight core – mum’s tone can affect the baby’s ability to turn
- misaligned pelvis – the basis for Spinning Babies is a lot to do with symmetry and balance in the pelvis for a very good reason!
The Link Between A Misaligned Pelvis and A Breech Baby
As a chiropractor, this is my area of knowledge and understanding more than the other causes of breech birth. In the simplest terms your pelvis needs to be symmetrical and balanced for your baby to get into the right position. When your pelvis is misaligned the ligaments supporting your uterus are tugging. Your muscles are pulling lopsided, minimising the space for your baby to move.
When your pelvis is aligned, your baby is free to move about into the ideal position.
It might end up that you have a perfect pelvis and have been getting adjusted with the Webster technique throughout your pregnancy, but you STILL have a breech baby. If this is the case, there’s probably a really intelligent reason for that – most likely to do with your cord or the position of your placenta.
What Are Your Options With A Breech Baby?
So now that you have a rough idea of the background, what can you do about it? Thankfully, there’s tonnes of different avenues for you to explore. There are probably some on here that I haven’t even thought of, so email me if you want me to add something 🙂
The Webster technique is a sacral technique taught and certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. It’s sometimes referred to as a breech baby turning technique – please note – this couldn’t be more wrong! There are a lot of mums who report that their babies turned head down after getting adjusted with the Webster technique, but the intention of the technique is simply to balance the pelvis.
The reason it’s so effective is that altered biomechanics of the pelvis is a massive reason for breech baby position. Think about it – we spent so much of our day sitting: to eat, to work, to drive. We’re designed to be upright, but we’re spending more hours on our bums than anything else. Our bodies are struggling to adapt, and so when the sacrum and pelvis is realigned with a specific chiropractic adjustment, the baby has more wiggle room.
The Webster technique is cited a lot on the Spinning Babies website, which isn’t surprising as Gail Tully (midwife) worked a lot with Carol Phillips (chiropractor) to create the SB workshops.
In traditional Chinese acupuncture (rather than the weekend courses in dry needling), mugwort (moxa) is rolled into a stick that looks a bit like a cigar. The moxa stick is burnt on the outside part of the little toes, and the research has shown that the baby will start to increase movement within seven minutes.
The process is repeated twice a day for 15-20 minutes on each foot, until the baby goes head down. It’s worth noting that most people suggest this starts at 34 weeks, before the baby starts to descend into the pelvis. The great thing about it, is that you can do it yourself (if you can reach your feet!) or you can have a partner do it for you. And the only reported negative side effect has been when people have touched the lit end to their skin, rather than the end opposite!
So imagine if you balanced your pelvis to give baby adequate wiggle room, and then used moxibustion to get them moving?!
This might sound woo to some of you, but visualisation is a powerful tool. Your body changes its physiology – hormones, heart rate, breathing rate – based on what your brain perceives. Your brain doesn’t care if it’s real or imagined, so why not use the power of your imagination to affect your physiology?
If you’ve done any hypno-birthing you’ll already have used some of these techniques, but if you haven’t, check out a teacher near you! There are a lot of different breech baby guided meditations and affirmations online but I always think it’s nice to work with someone on a one to one basis.
Reflexology is another thing to consider if you have a breech baby and are looking at natural options to help with positioning. Your reflexologist will be accessing the same point (bladder 67) as the moxibustion, but with pressure rather than using the moxa stick. Not to mention how lovely and relaxing reflexology is in general, this is another wonderful tool for your tool box.
External Cephalic Version (ECV)
With an ECV, the baby is manipulated through your abdomen, to force it into the head down position. While success rates vary from 30% to 80%, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend that 40% will be successful in first time mums, and 60% in those who have birthed before.
Out of all the options available to you with a breech baby, this is the one that is reported as being likely to be painful, and very few women report that there’s no pain involved.
So, which option is right for you? Or will it be a combination of a few of them? If you’re in Essex and you’re looking for a chiropractor to care for you throughout your pregnancy, I’m taking on new clients now and I’d love to meet you 🙂