Naughty Breech Baby – Where it all began
For all you mums who have just found out your baby is breech, you’re no doubt already googling what this might mean for you, your birth and probably want to know a little more information. I hope by sharing my experience I can shed some light on what a breech pregnancy and birth can entail and answer some questions you might have along the way.
A little bit about my early pregnancy –
I was really lucky to have a relatively straightforward pregnancy of which I am so thankful for. I had a tiny bit of nausea in the mornings but wasn’t really sick with it and everything else I experienced I considered to be normal during the first few months. Going off tea and coffee, hating the smell of anything my partner Jack cooked, frequently taking naps and taking fancy to sweet things when normally I’m a savoury girl.
We had one unscheduled trip to the hospital as we couldn’t feel the baby moving, typically our baby decided to put in a lovely display of acrobatics as we were being checked! Fortunately that was the only real worry we had throughout, I felt great to be honest and really enjoyed being pregnant.
Jack and I always had our hearts set on a lovely natural birth with minimal interventions or painkillers where possible, which I imagine a lot of people hope for as well. My mum had quick and straightforward births with me and my brother so naturally I aspired for the same. Reading and hearing stories about epidurals and other painkillers we felt like we had a good plan of what we did and didn’t want to opt for if needed. So we really started to put together our ‘ideal’ birth plan, we like to be organised and felt we were really prepared leading up to the final weeks (or as prepared as you can be).
At 32 weeks we found out that our baby was now breech, everyone’s experience at appointments is different and up until this one ours had been great. The midwife was very blasé about the baby’s position and we actually pointed out that we thought the heartbeat was towards the top end of my belly which would mean breech. Checking again after initially saying the baby was head down she came to agree with us and very casually said, “oh you’ll just have a c-section then” like it was nothing.
Looking back, I can understand that to a midwife it’s not that much of a big deal announcing that a baby is breech, especially as only 3% of babies who are breech at 32 weeks stay in this position! To us though, the news was huge, we had been so set on a natural birth that at the time we felt angry at the lack of sensitivity on finding out the news. I felt faint with worry and we were both shocked and deflated that the plan we’d have liked was now out of our hands. I don’t do well with plans changing but the main thing was that our baby was safe and healthy.
Could I turn this baby around?
I knew there were still a couple of weeks for our baby to turn around naturally, I was on a mission to find out any possible ways that might help aid this. There’s plenty of success stories online so I thought it was worth a try in the hope we’d have the natural birth Jack and I had ‘planned’ for.
The following are all weird and wonderful methods we gave a try which have had varying success for other couples:
- Handstands off the end of the bed (don’t laugh), on all fours with your bum in the air. It’s not a great look, I did this for 10-15 minutes most evenings before I felt dizzy
- Rocking back and forth on all fours for 10-15 minutes at a time, similar to the above without the nausea!
- Moxibustion, this is the only method mentioned/advised by the NHS as studies have shown it to be 66% successful. Moxibustion is a form of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, but instead of needles, a practitioner or in our case Jack haha, applies gentle heat in the form of a stick which looks like a cigar to the little toe’s pressure point for 30 minutes at a time. Little disclaimer, the sticks do stink but luckily the weather was nice and warm by the time I was heavily pregnant. So we performed this outside with me laying down on a sunbed (was quite relaxing for me actually). Wear old clothes you don’t care about as the smell clings to them for weeks, you can get smokeless sticks but we never tried those.
- Pelvic tilt aka the ironing board technique, lying on the floor raising your hips with your feet planted on the ground and your knees bent. Another way which we also tried was to place an ironing board on the edge of the sofa so it’s in a tilted position and lie on it with your head resting on a pillow down the lower end and feet elevated for 20 minutes at a time. Looks ridiculous!
- Lots of swimming this relaxes your hips and tilts your pelvis downwards which can help your baby turn. I went to an aquanatal puddleducks class once a week which is great for meeting other pregnant mums too!
- Bouncing & rocking on a gym ball which promotes good posture and can help a baby move into position.
The last resort for us
Needless to say, none of the above worked for us and our midwife recommended a procedure that has a 50/50 success rate of turning breech babies around. Even if successful there is no guarantee that the baby will stay head down.
This procedure is called an ECV which stands for External Cephalic Version.
This is where a trained doctor applies gentle pressure on your abdomen to help your baby turn or somersault in the womb until he or she is facing head-first. That’s the official wording you’ll find when looking this procedure up and there’s a lot more to it than the short description I’ve given.
Applying ‘gentle’ pressure was the complete opposite to what I could feel, this is just my experience and I am no way saying do not have an ECV because it has been so successful for other women, some women don’t feel any pain at all!
It was one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt and this was after having an injection to relax your stomach muscles! The whole process takes a couple of hours before you’re even ready for them to begin the procedure of manipulating the baby. They had been trying for less than a minute and I had to ask the doctor to stop as it was so excruciating. I felt like I had failed, I was so upset and kept saying sorry to Jack. We both agreed we’d never opt for this procedure again and left the hospital feeling disheartened knowing this was probably the last technique we could try.
Once we got home we had time to accept that this is what was happening and to shake it off and be thankful that our baby was healthy and growing perfectly and that is all that really matters.
Although I couldn’t deliver the baby in the way that I’d hoped, I knew things weren’t completely out of my hands, There were still aspects I could control, I wanted to make sure I felt confident going into my c-section, so I read up on more than enough information to know what would happen once the day came.
That’s one example of feeling in control, there are other important details that I prepared for leading up to meeting our baby which I have spoken about in my next blog.