What Are The Signs Of A Breech Baby Turning?

    What Are The Signs Of A Breech Baby Turning?

    Your baby may flip or kick inside the womb, but nearer the delivery date, they usually stick to one position: head down towards the birth canal. But, did you know that some babies assume a breech position, where either their legs or buttocks present first, at some point during the pregnancy? Some even stay in that position until it’s time for them to be born. Hence, moms often ask: Are there signs of a breech baby turning? Will these help them effectively prepare for childbirth?

    Are There Risks If The Baby Is In A Breech Position?

    A breech position may not put the baby at risk during pregnancy. However, the delivery is another story.

    When a baby is at a breech position during delivery, they may sustain injury (dislocation and fracture) to their legs and arms. Furthermore, breech increases the risk of umbilical cord problems: it may flatten or twist and deprive the baby of oxygen. Note that oxygen deprivation can lead to brain or nerve damage.

    Why Is It Important To Know The Signs Of A Breech Baby Turning?

    Knowing the possible signs of a breech baby turning allows you to better prepare for your delivery.

    Like mentioned earlier, some babies, particularly around their 28th week, assume a breech position. But then most of them would assume a head-down position towards the delivery date.

    If a baby remains in a breech position, there are several options:

    • Continuous monitoring. Some breech babies are also delivered vaginally without a problem.
    • Decide (with the medical team) to deliver via Cesarean Section. However, if labor occurs before the surgery, the team will decide if CS is still the better option. Close to being born, they might decide that vaginal birth may be better.
    • Decide on vaginal birth. However, your medical team might decide against it if your baby is in a footling breech position (their feet are lower than their bottom). VB is also not advisable if the baby is large or in an awkward position, such as when their neck is very tilted back.
    • Perform External Cephalic Version (ECV) where healthcare providers manually help the baby turn their head down to the birth canal. It is usually performed before labor.

    Important

    ECV has its own risks. It may result in premature labor, premature rupture of amniotic sac, and emergency CS. Of course, there’s the possibility that the baby will go back to being in breech after.

    Signs That A Breech Baby Is Turning

    Mothers may breathe a sigh of relief if they at least feel the signs that their breech baby is turning.

    Unfortunately, there are no physical signs that your baby has turned. The only way to determine is to feel your belly and check how your baby moves.

    If your baby has turned head-side down, you may feel the following:

    • Their head is located low in your belly.
    • Large movements (by their legs and bottom) higher up in your tummy.
    • Little movements (by their arms and elbows) in your lower pelvis.
    • Hiccups at the lower part of your belly.
    • Their heartbeat (using a home doppler device) at the lower part of your belly. This signifies that their chest might be lower than their legs.

    Of course, if you want to be sure, it’s advisable to head over to your doctor. They can perform the palpation (called Leopold’s Maneuver). The doctor will also most likely order an ultrasound to ascertain the baby’s position right before delivery.

    Key Takeaways

    Delivering a breech baby may have risks, but experts say some can be delivered vaginally without a problem. If you don’t feel the signs of a breech baby turning near your delivery date, please consult your doctor to determine the baby’s position. From there, you can decide on the best option to give birth to your baby.

    Learn more about Pregnancy here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    External Cephalic Version, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482475/, Accessed May 18, 2022
    Fetal Positions for Birth, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9677-fetal-positions-for-birth, Accessed May 18, 2022
    Breech Baby, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21848-breech-baby, Accessed May 18, 2022
    What happens if your baby is breech?, https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/what-happens/if-your-baby-is-breech/, Accessed May 18, 2022
    Breech baby at the end of pregnancy patient information leaflet, https://www.rcog.org.uk/for-the-public/browse-all-patient-information-leaflets/breech-baby-at-the-end-of-pregnancy-patient-information-leaflet/, Accessed May 18, 2022

    Picture of the Authorbadge
    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 03
    Expertly reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD