Why is this baby breech?
Watch this video of a nice doctor talking about it, showing an ultrasound.
If you have done much looking around at all, you know that breech babies have a higher incidence of problems at birth, both congenital and birth-related. You need to know that 93% of breech babies are born normal. So, there is a small small possibility that your baby is breech because of a developmental abnormality. Some researchers are calling vertex position (head down) the first developmental milestone. But in all likelihood, this baby is perfectly normal.
The chances of a vertex (normal position) baby being born with an abnormality are 2.4% The chances of a breech baby being born with an abnormality are 6.3%. Again, there is a 93% likelihood that your baby is normal.
Here are some possible explanations/risk factors for breech, in no particular order.
You have a weird-shaped uterus or pelvis. If you have bicornuate uterus or a uterine septum, you are much more likely to have a breech baby. If you have had a pelvic injury, malnutrition as a child, or used the pill in adolescence before your bones were fully formed, you may have an increased risk of pelvic-weirdness affecting your baby’s position. Even so, seems unlikely.
Your first baby was breech. About 10% of of women whose 1st baby is breech go on to have a second breech baby. You have an increased risk of a breech if any previous pregnancies were breech at term. Here is a study with detailed information about the recurrence of breech in mamas’ 2nd/3rd pregnancies.
You are old. Well, older. The incidence of breech rises with maternal age. Teen moms have a 42.8/1000 rate of breech babies at term, and the incidence rises from there to a rate of 84.6/1000 for moms aged 40-54.
You have too much or too little amniotic fluid.
This condition would affect your baby’s ability to move around.
The umbilical cord is very short or tangled.
Some practitioners say it’s possible that the baby cannot maneuver well because of an abnormality with the cord.
The amniotic sac has issues.
Amnion ruptures result in rolls of tissue in which a part of the baby could entangle. (This is not likely, don’t freak out.)
Your baby’s hips are immature. A baby may have hip joints that are not fully developed and therefore the baby can’t kick herself around.
There are breech babies in your family history.
If you or your baby’s dad were breech, or there are other breech babies in your family history, breech position may run in your family. Why? No one really knows. If this is the case with you, your baby is less likely to turn and less likely to have any kind of abnormality. It’s just a family thing. Go weird! Here is an article about breech heredity.
It’s your first pregnancy.
First babies are more likely to be breech. There is some talk about the possibility of this being because your belly is significantly tighter (your ab muscles haven’t been stretched out from other pregnancies). When baby is packed in there, it’s not as easy to turn. On the other hand, there is also stuff in the literature about a stretched out belly being a reason a baby doesn’t settle head-down (There’s enough room to keep turning and turning, so why not, it’s fun!).
Your placenta is in an unusual location.
If your placenta is right on top or right on bottom (placenta previa) of your uterus, your baby’s position may be affected.
You are white.
What can I say? Studies show that Caucasian moms have more breech babies. Is it cause we’re so uppity? We can’t dance? Our babies can’t jump?
Your personality is breechy.
Would you describe yourself or would others describe you as idealistic, analytical, polished, overextended, or fearful? How do you feel about your ability to adapt to unexpected situations or bear up in the face of unresolvable circumstances? One researcher found that women who showed these qualities and were not particularly adaptable or pragmatic were much more likely to have a term breech. This upsets me, but I do have at least three of those personality qualities already etched on my gravestone. Take the breech personality quiz!
You are diabetic.
There is a serious increase in the chances of your baby being breech, possibly from the decreased fetal movements that moms with diabetes experience.
You sit a lot.
OK, so certain types of seats encourage a baby to just plop. Sofas, recliners, and bucket seats (like in a car) are notoriously bad for baby’s position. Midwives who work among the Amish noted a significant increase in breech babies when the people switched from using hard chairs only to using couches and recliners. If you must spend a lot of time in the car, put some towels in the hole of the seat so you are sitting more flat and forward. Don’t sit in holes or little comfy nests. A generally inactive lifestyle also encourages baby to stay breech.
Another reason to abstain during pregnancy.
This is the almighty big one. So much has been written on the connection between stressed mamas and breech babies. The science is that stress causes tightening in the lower uterine segment. The deal is: relax. Anxious moms have more breech babies. Your hormones go to your baby. If you are freaking out, your baby is feeling it. Midwife G. Lowden is quoted in Breech Birth (Waites 2003) as saying she thought that late in pregnancy a woman’s focus naturally goes down to the belly and pelvic area and the baby follows suit (goes head-down). But if her energy was kept in her head because she was working too hard or stressing and thinking too much, the baby would keep its head up near her energy. This may be too woo-woo for you, but there is science behind the stress-breech connection at any rate.
Something to do with your Kidney energy is off.
A traditional Chinese medicine viewpoint from this interesting pdf says the main cause of breech position (and any malpresentation) is a deficiency in Kidney energy which is related to the uterus and has a role in nourishment of the fetus. This deficiency causes a problem with your qi (“chee”). Deadman et al. (1998) write that “the yin of the Kidney nourishes and dominates the development and growth of the foetus through the pregnancy. As the birth date approaches and yin reaches its zenith, yang must begin to grow in order to turn the foetus and prepare for the intense activity of birth. If, towards the time of delivery, there is insufficient yang activity of the uterus, due either to deficiency or stagnation, then yang must be stimulated”.