6 May 2014

How to turn a breech baby

Step 1... don't ask me!

Baby has been breech now since our 20 week scan. Not a problem we thought, she'll turn. Now at 38 weeks this is seeming increasingly unlikely. At full term only about 3% of babies are likely to still be breech. In our quest to encourage her to turn I have learnt a lot that I thought may be worth sharing. I have tried lots of things, clearly with no success. They all have varying success rates, many not proven but I figured we may as well try everything. I hope these are useful to someone...

The Spinning Babies website is brilliant! Lot's of exercises to try on a daily basis. My favourite was lying on my back on the floor with feet on the sofa and every cushion we own under my bum. This was far easier than the first exercise that had been recommended by a midwife on all fours but with chest on the floor and bum as high as I could get it. E also liked helping me with my excercises (as you can see above).

Seems quite a popular approach but I opted to buy the sticks from eBay and try this at home. Seemed crazy and Mr B certainly thought it was hilarious but in hindsight we probably didn't start this early enough or were consistent enough. This is quite a useful site.

Talking to baby
I am a strong believer in 'baby knows best' and I have been (and still am) slightly concerned that my stress levels at work haven't helped baby be as relaxed and ready for birth as she could have been. I had hoped when I finished work she might turn at that point, but no. I have spoken to baby (using her name), Mr B has, and even E has told her she is being a monkey for not turning.

I still believe that hypnobirthing techniques enabled me to have such a positive birth with E and have found them useful in other areas of my life so thought they may be worth a try here to. There have also been successful studies carried out for its use in turning breech babies. I have tried a fear and emotion release script to dispel any negative feelings I may have been holding in my subconscious and have most recently downloaded a specific 'baby turn' hypnosis track package from Gentle Birth which I am listening to daily.

External cephalic version (ECV)
When baby was still breech at the 36 week scan we opted to go ahead with an ECV. This was stated as only having a 50/60% success rate but we figured was worth a try. This was not something I was looking forward to and when the consultant explained there would be 'discomfort' I decided this must mean pain. However, I was completely surprised and would recommend trying this to anyone. I didn't find it painful, strange yes, and probably worse for the consultant carrying it out and Mr B who had to watch it with the 8 medical students, 1 midwife, 1 junior doctor looking on! Watching a few YouTube videos before definitely helped calm my nerves (video, video, video). Unfortunately after 5(!) attempts of two somersaults, two backflips and one more somersault it was clear she wasn't moving anywhere. The worst parts of the whole thing were having to be starved from midnight (we didn't leave the hospital until 3pm), being prepared for an emergency c-section (this is incredibly rare) and the injection in my arm to relax the uterus (only because of my old needle phobia).

So there we have it, we are left at 38 weeks pregnant with a bum down baby. We now have two options:

1) Virginal breech birth - being a second time mum, having an extended breech baby and her being a smallish size (she was 6lb at 36wks) makes me an ideal candidate to try this. Unfortunately virginal breech births, especially planned ones are rare, would require an epidural anyway, and often end in an emergency c-section. (Some relevant birth stories: Link, link, link)
2) Elective/planned c-section - could not be any more opposite to the birth I would have wanted (we were planning a homebirth!) and the opposite end of the spectrum to E's natural active birth but is the most chosen route for breech babies. No words needed about it being major surgery, a longer recovery time etc etc. (Some relevant birth stories: Link, link, link)

I have linked to some useful sites above but these are also great resources: Map of medicine (NHS resource and explains the options as presented to the consultant), Royal College of Obstetrician & Gynaecologists guidelines for breech babies, NHS Choices information for breech babies, Planned caesarean section versus planned vaginal birth for breech presentation at term study.

Needless to say mine and Mr B's heads are spinning and I'm already tired from the weight of the decision making process. I have consulted with my Instagram friends (thank you so much!), asked any midwife I could find, spoken to many friends who have had both emergency and planned c-sections and read, probably too, much on the Internet. We have until Tuesday to make our decision ahead of our appointment with the consultant. Will we be booking a c-section for 39 weeks or let fate/nature take it's course?


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