Vaginal Breech Birth
Very few doctors are willing or able to attend a vaginal breech birth, says Dr. Elliot Berlin, a Los Angeles prenatal chiropractor who has seen hundreds of breech pregnancies since he founded the Berlin Wellness Group in 2002. Primarily, it's due to a 2009 Canadian medical study that declared them unsafe. While the statistics have since been refuted, Dr. Berlin explains, medical students are no longer trained in how to manage a natural breech birth. For that reason, many women who want to deliver their breech babies vaginally give birth at home with midwives.
Cedar Lee of San Diego, California, is one of those women. Her son presented as breech at 30 weeks and steadfastly refused to turn despite all efforts to reposition him—including three attempts at external cephalic version.
Lee says she had planned on a home birth, anyway, and did extensive research on vaginal breech birth.
"I desperately wanted a vaginal birth," she says. "Nevertheless, I was terrified. But when it came down to it, I knew I was not willing to accept a C-section except as an absolute necessity."
Her son presented as double-footed, the most rare form of breech positioning, with the greatest risk of a prolapsed umbilical cord. However, after seven hours attended by a midwife, he was delivered without further complications.
Planned Cesarean Section
Like any other first-time mom, says Jennifer Gresham, she was scared when she found out her daughter was a breech baby.
"I had other issues, as well, like gestational diabetes and what turned out to be a uterine septum," says Gresham, who currently lives in the United Kingdom while her husband serves in the US Military.
A uterine septum is a congenital malformation of the uterine cavity.
"It felt like a lot to deal with, although in retrospect I realize that wasn't the case," she adds.
She was offered an external cephalic version, but refused it based on the fact that it could result in an emergency C-section. Instead, she opted for the planned C-section and says that it was absolutely the best choice for her and her child.
"I didn't have a lot of romantic notions about vaginal birth, especially since my baby was big," Gresham says. "It turned out that my uterine septum was huge, covering nearly 80 percent of my uterus. Given the size of my baby—she was more than 9 pounds when she was born at 39 weeks—I believe there was a significant chance that trying to turn her would have put her in distress."
As these four stories illustrate, there's no "best" way to deal with breech baby—or even a breech birth. Just remember: the approach and the birth plan that makes you most comfortable is always the right one.