Being breech puts a baby at serious risk. A vaginal delivery of a breech baby creates a situation in which the umbilical cord may be collapsed. In fact, the mortality rate for breech babies is roughly four times that of babies who are in the regular or “vertex” position. For this reason, many babies that are in the breech position may be delivered via cesarean section. While a breech baby cannot always be moved, there are things that you and your health care provider can do to try to move your breech baby.
There are some techniques that a woman might use to try to encourage her baby to move into the vertex position. Sometimes, lying with your hips higher than your head may help. You can do this by placing pillows under your hips, or by lying on an inclined board. In other cases, women have tried placing headphones or a flashlight near the pubic bone. While there is not research to suggest that any of these techniques will work, they aren’t harmful and may be worth a try. Sometimes, a health care provider may even recommend trying these things.
There is a medical procedure for moving your breech baby, as well. This procedure is known as an external cephalic version, or simply an external version. In this procedure, your health care provider may push on your baby until he gets into the correct position. This procedure typically will happen at around the 37th week of pregnancy. The reason for this is that, by the 37th week, most babies will have turned to the vertex position, even if they were previously breech. During an external cephalic version, your baby’s heart rate will be monitored. If the umbilical cord is positioned in such a way as to prevent your baby from being moved, for example, tracking your baby’s vital signs during the external cephalic version is especially important.
While a breech baby cannot always be moved, it is often worth a try so that a cesarean section may be avoided.