Are you at the end of your pregnancy and recently received the shocking news your baby is breech? Has your OB provider discussed possibly performing an ECV (external cephalic version) or C-section due to this finding? If so, in this post I want to share my experience with this situation. I’m currently pregnant with my second child. My first child was not breech and I delivered him via a vaginal delivery.
In this post, I will cover the following information:
- What is a “breech baby” and what this means for a pregnancy?
- What is an ECV (external cephalic version)?
- Can a “breech baby” turn on its own?
- C-section thoughts (pros and cons)
Breech Baby: ECV or C-Section
What is the breech position?
A baby is considered breeched sometime around the 37 week mark of pregnancy. This is because up to this point it is normal for a baby to change positions.
A baby is in the breech position when the baby’s butt in down over the cervix and the head is up in the uterus. There are many different types of breech positions (as seen below). My baby is in the “Frank Breech” position.
Normally, around this time in a pregnancy (around 37 weeks) a baby should settle down in the cephalic or vertex position. This is where the head in down over the cervix and butt is up in the uterus, which is the most ideal position for a safe vaginal delivery (both for mom and baby).
It’s important to note the some babies will get in the cephalic position early on, while others will wait right until delivery. However, MOST babies should be in the cephalic position by around 37 weeks.
What does a breech baby mean for a pregnancy?
If you are told your baby is breech around this time, your OB provider may recommend you consider a procedure called an external cephalic version (ECV). An ECV is usually performed around 37 weeks.
This is where the OB provider will try to manually move the baby with their hands via your stomach (hence uterus) into the head down position. If successful, this could increase your chances of having a vaginal delivery rather than a C-section.
This procedure is usually performed in a hospital. You and your baby will be monitored and sometimes an epidural is given to you to help minimize pain. If you are considering this procedure be sure to research it thoroughly.
Personally, I declined the procedure. Why?
- The success rate of actually being able to “flip” the baby into the cephalic position is only 30-50%. Therefore, this procedure can fail to turn your baby. It’s not 100%.
- The baby can turn back at any time, even if the provider is successful at “flipping” the baby.
- It can be distressing to the baby and cause labor to start. This was definitely a major reason I decided not to do it because I have marginal cord insertion and an accessory placenta lobe. So the risks were higher for my baby.
- Women report it can be a painful procedure.
What happens if you decline the ECV and the baby never turns into the head down position?
Can a “breech baby” turn on its own?
As I pointed out above, babies can turn at any point and some will wait to turn at the very end. Therefore, yes a “breech baby” may turn on its own without any assistance. My OB provider confirmed this and so have many other women I’ve spoken to about this. Therefore, you can just wait and see if this will happen.
While you wait, you can try some different positions that may help turn the baby naturally. Always check with your OB provider to confirm they are safe to do. My provider recommended I check out Spinningbabies.com. He said that these positions have worked for some of his patients, while others it has not. Currently, it has NOT worked for me.
If your baby never turns on its own and it is time for delivery, you may have to have a C-section. There are not a lot of doctors out there who will attempt a breech vaginal delivery due to the risks. However, you may live in an area where this is possible….again research your options.
C-section Thoughts (Pros and Cons)
What’s a C-section? It is a surgical procedure performed to deliver the baby. An incision is made around the bikini line via the abdominal muscles and the baby is delivered through this area. If your baby is breech, your OB provider will suggest your schedule a C-section at 39 weeks.
A C-section was something I never considered (I automatically thought this baby would be delivered like my last…via a vaginal delivery), and it is definitely not my first choice, BUT if my baby stays breech I feel it is the best options for both him and me.
Therefore, what are some pros and cons of a C-section?
- Recovery takes longer than a vaginal delivery, which impacts how you can care for yourself and baby
- You have to be extra careful to protect the surgical incision (this alters how you can care for other children in your home and your baby)
- Scar will be present
- Risk for infection and possible complications to other organs during the procedure
- It’s major surgery
- Can impact that “golden hour” with your baby
- Family can’t be present for the birth (most hospitals only allow one person during the procedure)
- Experience disappoint that you didn’t get to experience a vaginal delivery….feel like a failure compared to other moms
- Some report their milk supply was delayed in coming in
- May affect your ability to have a vaginal birth in the future
- Hospital stay tends to be longer
- No vaginal tears, hemorrhoids (you will still experience vaginal bleeding just like with a vaginal delivery though), and there is a possible decrease risk of pelvic floor problems in the future.
- No pushing or experiencing painful contractions (this only applies to some women because sometimes women go through the vaginal delivery process but have to have an emergency C-section)
- You know the date you baby will be born so you can prepare easier
- It’s quicker compared going through all the stages of labor associated with a vaginal delivery
- Low risk of birth injuries to your baby since they don’t have to go through the birth canal because some babies can experience fractures, shoulder problems, or being deprived of oxygen deprivation during a vaginal delivery
- Can be the best option compared to a vaginal birth if your baby is very large, having twins, breech position etc.
As of right now, I don’t know if I will have a C-section because my baby may turn naturally (at this point I doubt it though), but I’ve planned for it if that is the route this pregnancy takes. If you would like to see what happened in my situation, be sure to check out my pregnancy vlog on YouTube.