An unborn baby will usually turn to present himself in whatever position it is going to be born around week 34 to 36 of a pregnancy. Before that, it is mainly in an “across” position.
Some recognized medical reasons contributing to breech presentation at the time of labor include the following:
• Preterm labor and birth if labor starts when the baby is still too small to move easily in the uterus.
• A placenta in the fundus: The placenta takes up some of the space in the top of the uterus.
• An unusual shape of the mother’s uterus or fibroids in the lower part of the uterus.
• More than one fetus (such as twins).
• A very relaxed uterus from many previous children.
• Too much or too little amniotic fluid.
Yet more subtle or emotional factors can be at play.Marie-Paul Baxiu explains breech positioning from a non-medical perspective: “They sometimes hide, as parents are very fixed on the sex of their unborn child, and they are afraid of not meeting their parents’ expectations and will chose to hide their gender in utero, or there could be a parental dispute. The baby is saying, ‘I am not ready to come out the way things are,’ and there are so many other possible reasons.”
Describing how she establishes communication with an unborn baby, while encouraging the parents to communicate as well, Baxiu says: “Well, when a mother is relaxed (connected to her own body), her brain waves are much slower (4 to 7 hertz, theta brain waves. Most of us operate at beta brain-wave level, our regular cognitive state of mind, at 13 to 30 hertz).
“A mother gets into the same brain wave her baby is in continuously while relaxed, and so there is a way to establish true connection and communication. Babies are completely conscious and capable of responding to their mother’s deepest thoughts.”
With the father, she adds, “It works differently. They can only connect to their voice, since they don’t share the same physical space.”
Midwives are traditionally trained by one another and have preserved and passed down skills that have helped eons of people be born throughout the ages. “They are often the experts who facilitate the training of gynecology students in all that is natural,” Baxiu says.
There are some obstetricians/gynecologists who feel comfortable assisting women with breech babies in a hospital, people such as Ronald Wu, M.D., located in Glendale, Calif. Dr. Wu has the knowledge to facilitate such birth. He has helped breech single and twin babies to be born vaginally in the hospital setting. Unfortunately, he will soon retire.
Dr. Stuart Fischbein explained at the breech-birth event that he is comfortable assisting a woman giving birth to a breech baby as long as the baby is a frank presentation (where the baby is presented with its butt close by the cervix and his feet are close by his head).
Dr. Fischbein pointed out that any other breech presentation, such as feet first, can make things more difficult to handle in a natural vaginal birth in a home setting.
For parents facing breech birth, when choosing a natural home birth with a midwife, they won’t have the safety net a hospital birth could offer with backup doctors and equipment if a last minute C-section is needed.
What does this imply? It means that to encourage natural-minded parents to deliver in a hospital, doctors will have to learn to keep their hands off, allowing a woman to give birth without the constriction of time and all the interventions that are usually taking place unnecessarily, which too often lead to a C-section.
This is the second part of a three-part series.
Next week: Solution to the breech-birth dilemma.
Marie-Paul Baxiu is a clinical hypnotherapist, birth doula, and the founder of Childbirth Hypnosis Training, EasyBirthing.com