Breech Birth. What are your options?
Breech birth. Do you know what that means? If not you’re certainly not alone. “Breech presentation is defined as a fetus in a longitudinal lie with the buttocks or feet closest to the cervix. This occurs in 3-4% of all deliveries.” (Fischer, 2016). Sometimes babies are not born head first which is the norm. In a lot of areas in the US finding out your baby is breech is an automatic cesarean (aka c-section). You may not be given any other options, and there are a few reasons this could happen.
One major setback is that in some states the only legal breech birth option is in fact a c-section. Even if you are lucky enough to live in a state that does allow for vaginal breech birth you may be hard pressed to find an OB who will deliver your baby vaginally. Most newly trained doctors trained in the US are not taught about physiological breech birth while in school, at least for the last 2 decades. Therefore, they aren’t comfortable with it and haven’t been properly trained to deliver a baby this way nor have most even seen one. Another hurdle some OB’s face with breech birth is their own insurance. Some insurance companies refuse to cover those providers who offer vaginal breech birth as an option. The laws regarding birth differ state to state. Some will allow breech birth in a hospital; some will allow in at home or a birth center and some won’t.
If you’ve found out your late term baby is breech your first research should be what your legal options are. Then you’ll need to find a provider who is trained in breech birth. Depending on where you are this could be a CNM, an OB, or a CPM. When you have decided on a provider who will support your vaginal breech birth this will likely also be when you plan where your birth will take place. Either in the hospital or at a birth center or at home. Your options will be dependent on where you live, who your provider is and what you are most comfortable with.
Some people have luck encouraging baby to move before their babies are born. There are a few ways to do this including a medical option like an ECV. “An external cephalic version (ECV) involves your doctor or obstetrician trying to turn your baby into a head-down position” (ECV, 2018). Some of the more natural options include: Prenatal yoga, upside down swimming, acupuncture, chiropractic care by a Webster certified Chiropractor, or the Spinning Babies program.
Regardless of what you decide to do just remember to advocate for yourself and your baby. Talk to your doula. Trust that your intuition will tell you what’s best for you, whether that is a planned c-section with an OB or a homebirth with a CPM (or CNM). Breech birth is a variation of normal. Remember woman have been having breech babies as long as woman have been having babies. The more you know the more confident you’ll feel. Breech doesn’t have to be the end of your birth vision.
Fischer, R. (2016, June 15).
External cephalic version. (4AD). Retrieved March 30, 2020, from https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/external-cephalic-version-ecv
Written by Rachel Brannan a birth doula local to the Spokane area. She has attended breech home birth which inspired her to learn all she could about it. She has participated in continuing education specific to Breech Birth because she is passionate that woman have a choice about how they birth regardless if baby is head first, butt first, feet first, or if she’s got one of each. www.desertdoulabirth.com
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