A breech baby is when a baby is positioned in the womb with their buttocks or feet facing downward, instead of the head. This positioning is not typical and can cause concerns during pregnancy and delivery. If your baby is currently breeched, continue reading on why it happens, ways to turn your baby head down and what happens if your baby does not turn before your delivery date.
Why It Happens
Babies usually turn head down on their own as they grow in the womb. However, some babies don’t, and there can be various reasons for this. It’s important to remember that breech positioning is not always preventable, and it can happen for a variety of reasons that are not within the control of the mother or healthcare providers.
- Uterine Shape: Sometimes, the shape of the mother’s uterus can make it more likely for a baby to be breech.
- Multiple Pregnancy: In cases of twins or multiples, one or more of the babies may end up in a breech position.
- Premature Birth: Babies born prematurely are more likely to be breech because they might not have had enough time to turn head-down.
- High Amniotic Fluid Levels: Excessive amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) can give the baby more room to move around, increasing the chances of breech positioning.
- Multiple Pregnancies: If it’s not the mother’s first pregnancy, the baby might have less space to move into the head-down position.
- Placenta Location: If the placenta is positioned in a way that obstructs the baby’s head from moving downward, it can lead to a breech position.
- Muscle Tone: Sometimes, factors related to the baby’s muscle tone or nervous system development can influence their positioning.
When Babies Usually Turn Head Down
Babies usually turn their heads downward in preparation for birth during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This head-down position is called “cephalic presentation” and is the ideal position for a smooth and safe delivery. Most babies naturally make this important move between the 32nd and 36th weeks of pregnancy, although it can happen earlier or later for some infants. This turning of the head downward is a crucial step in the birthing process, allowing the baby to enter the birth canal in the correct position for delivery.
What Moms Can Do To Turn The Baby Naturally
Moms can try some gentle exercises and positions to encourage their breech baby to turn naturally. Here are a few things they can do:
- Kneel on All Fours: Get on your hands and knees, like a crawling position. This can create more space in your belly for the baby to move around and hopefully flip.
- Pelvic Tilts: While on your hands and knees, gently rock your pelvis back and forth. This movement might help the baby turn.
- Knee-to-Chest Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Then, slowly bring your knees up towards your chest. Hold this position for a few minutes each day to encourage the baby to move.
- Swimming: Gentle swimming, especially the breaststroke, can encourage the baby to turn due to the gentle pressure of water.
- Talking to Your Baby: Some moms find that talking to their baby and using a flashlight or music near the pelvic area can coax the baby to move toward the light or sound.
Remember, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before attempting any of these methods. They can provide guidance on which techniques might be safe and effective for your specific situation. If the baby remains breech, medical interventions may be necessary for a safe delivery.
What Doctors Can Do To Turn The Baby
Doctors can perform a procedure called an “external cephalic version” (ECV) to try and turn a breeched baby. Here’s how it works in easy-to-understand terms:
- Hands-On Help: A doctor, usually in a hospital, uses their hands on the outside of the mom’s belly to gently push and turn the baby. It’s like a doctor’s special way of encouraging the baby to move its head down.
- Monitoring: Throughout the procedure, the doctor carefully monitors the baby’s heartbeat to make sure it’s safe and not stressed.
- Timing: Doctors usually do this after 37 weeks of pregnancy because the baby is big enough and ready to turn.
ECV can be successful in some cases, but not always. Doctors will decide if it’s the right option based on the baby’s position and the mom’s health. If it works, it can help the baby get into the right position for a safer and smoother birth.
What Will Happen If The Baby Does Not Turn
If the baby doesn’t turn head down and remains in a breech position near the time of delivery, the healthcare team will discuss the options with the mother. In some cases, a planned cesarean section (C-section) may be recommended to ensure a safe delivery. This is because delivering a breech baby vaginally can pose risks, such as head entrapment or birth complications.
A breech baby is when the baby is positioned with their buttocks or feet facing downward in the womb. This can happen for various reasons, and babies typically turn head down between the 32nd and 36th weeks of pregnancy. Moms can try natural methods to encourage the baby to turn, and doctors may perform an ECV if needed. If the baby remains breech near delivery, a C-section may be recommended to ensure a safe birth for both the baby and the mother.
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