Fullness under the ribcage
In addition to the kicks, the position of the head can be another sign of breech baby position. A baby’s head is the largest part of its body. In normal position, the head is oriented toward the pelvis. In breech position, the head is still in the upper portion of the abdomen.
Standing in front of a mirror and checking the shape of the belly is one way to check. The tummy may be fuller in the upper portion toward the ribcage. A mother might have trouble breathing fully if the baby’s head is pushing against the diaphragm.
Causes and Risk Factors
Unfortunately, the exact reason why some babies do not turn in the womb before delivery is not confirmed. According to statistics, less than 5% of full-term babies are breech. Some maternal factors that make breech position more likely are previous history of a breech baby, abnormal uterus shape or size, leiomyoma, placentation, or multiparity (e.g. twins or triplets).
Prolonged gestation or post-term pregnancy is another factor that makes breech position more likely. However, breech position can still occur even in preterm and full-term babies.
Management of Breech Presentation
Although breech babies are usually normal and healthy, the position can cause trouble for the mother and child. The reason why cephalic or head-first presentation is considered ideal for vaginal birth is because a baby’s head is designed to be moldable. Babies have softer heads with unfused bone plates with spaces called fontanelles.
These “soft spots” or fontanelles allow for the baby to safely squeeze through the birthing canal during delivery. In breech delivery, the legs can get caught or block the body from exiting properly. Additionally, another complication is cord prolapse.
In order to correct the position, a doctor can perform a maneuver known as external cephalic version (ECV). ECV is usually recommended near or past a baby’s expected delivery date. The maneuver involves applying moderately strong pressure with the hands to gently turn the baby around in the womb. ECV works in about 50% of cases. However, some babies will return to breech position even after a successful ECV. If ECV is not successful, most doctors recommend C-sections for breech deliveries.
Never attempt to perform ECV on yourself or at home.
In summary, abnormal kicks and tummy shape are a couple signs of breech baby position. Thankfully, breech babies are generally healthy and develop normally after birth. For more information, talk to your OB-GYN doctor.
Learn more about Birth Complications here.