Flipping Your Baby: What Can I Do When My Baby is Breech?

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I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of women in their ninth month, when the baby still hasn’t turned around and they’re facing the possibility of a breech delivery. Chinese herbs, complicated yoga positions, hanging upside down (okay haven’t actually seen that one yet), going to the kotel, you name it. If you’re looking for that kind of post, keep looking. I want to dispel 6 Myths about conventional medical options for breech births.

Myth: All breech births are automatically c-sections.
Fact: Nope. Breech babies can be safely delivered, and they are, all the time.

Myth: If my baby is breech, there’s nothing to do, just wait and sip my Needlebush/Ackee fruit juice that my neighbor gave me.
Fact: You do have options. You may try an external cephalic version (or hipuch in Hebrew) where the physician manually maneuvers the baby in the uterus and turns him/her around. You need to contact your providing/nearby hospital to see if 1) they have an expert doctor who can perform this 2) he will do it non privately.

Myth: I can only do this hipuch privately.
Fact: In Israel, you can get a hitchayvut (tofes 17) from your HMO that will cover this procedure. You will need permission but with a GP’s letter, it should be easy.

Myth: I can go to any midwife or gynecologist to check whether the baby’s head is down.
Fact: In today’s medical reality, few women’s health providers, unless they are home birth experts or have worked in third world countries, are trained to palpate (feel the abdomen) to discern baby’s head from its toes. So if they don’t have an ultrasound machine handy, don’t expect definitive results.

Myth: If I don’t want a c-section, I can just wait till I’m in labor and then they will have to deliver me.
Fact: One thing that labor room staff cannot stand is a surprise, breech position being one of the worst surprises. Even though, yes, healthy breech deliveries happen every day, they are still rare and many physicians and midwives have not been trained to perform them. You do need someone who is an expert and paying privately is your best deal for that.

Myth: I will have horrible tearing if I have a breech birth.
Fact: Not true. With an expert doctor, good position, not first birth, and your genetics which does influence tearing potential, you will not have tearing trauma.

Happy Birthday!

For more info about breech in the Israeli medical system, take a look at Hadassah’s page on flipping babies or Beilinson Hospital.

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