No, baby #5 is not breech, thank God! She seems to be firmly head down here at 33 1/2 weeks. But, for whatever reason, the post I put up in 2008 about Jack being breech is one of our biggest Google hits, so I'm reposting it for whoever is out there looking for info on breech babies.
So we're at 36 weeks now. Everything is in readiness for the home birth. I've got my kit, I've packed all the supplies I need where the midwives can find them easily, I've cleaned my room and the bathroom. We're all set except for one thing: baby has flipped breech.
The problem with this is that these days, not so many people want to deliver a breech baby vaginally. My midwife, with almost thirty years' experience, has only assisted at three or four breech births. Doctors are reluctant to allow vaginal breech births because of the slight risk of the cord getting pinched and cutting off oxygen to the baby -- and I'll grant that, if it happens to your baby, the statistics on the low incidence of occurrence mean nothing. So we're looking at opposite ends of the medical intervention spectrum -- if baby flips head-down, we can have a home birth; if he stays breech, we have to go to the hospital and have a c-section. Needless to say, I'm rooting for the former.
It turns out there are various methods for encouraging a baby to rotate, one of which is for the mother to lay pretty much upside down. This is about as uncomfortable as it looks (though less uncomfortable than a c-section, I keep telling myself). The awkward part is not in maintaining the position for twenty minutes at a time, but in getting into it in the first place. Baby does respond, especially when I put a bag of ice on his head to encourage him to wriggle away up toward the pelvis. (Image from SpinningBabies.com)
Other low-intervention methods include massage, chiropractic adjustment (though my friends tell me that no chiropractor will see you without an x-ray, which seems counterproductive in this case), acupuncture, and swimming. I have a massage scheduled for this weekend, and I'm going to need it after laying on my neck and shoulders for twenty minutes at a stretch. I also have an appointment with a doctor to discuss external version, should the at-home fixes fail. This involves the doctor rotating the baby from the outside, sounds to be quite painful ("Like ligaments tearing," the midwife suggested), and needs to be done after 37 weeks in a hospital with ultrasound monitoring in case baby gets tangled up in his cord and needs an immediate c-section. I'm praying we don't have to take it that far.
UPDATE 1/27/10: This post seems to get a lot of traffic from people searching for information about breech babies, so I'll let you know how it turned out: Acupunture and massage, though relaxing, did nothing for me. Nor did hanging upside down or floating in water. In the end I went in at 37 weeks for a version. It was successful and amazingly fast -- I'm still talking about it a year and a half later. Since this was my fourth, my muscles were sufficiently relaxed for the OB to get a good grip.
The version wasn't painless, but I didn't find it agonizing. He had to grab pretty deep to get under baby, and I had to consciously breathe and keep my muscles relaxed. But it went by quickly, and at the end I had a head-down baby!
Jack was born at home on 9/11/08.
Fortnightly Book, August 28
1 hour ago