If you're pregnant and closing in on your baby's due date, it's typical to worry about labor and delivery. At every prenatal appointment, your doctor or midwife will start preparing you for childbirth; spending some time feeling your baby bump, assessing your baby's position, and checking to make sure your body is ready. They'll also check for signs of potential complications, so everyone can prepare as best as possible. Luckily, there are early signs your baby is breech, too, so you and your provider can adjust accordingly and knock labor and delivery out of the park.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), most babies turn head down at the end of the third trimester. A few — about 1 in 25 — will be breech, meaning bottom or feet down. The same site notes that if your baby is breech, it might not be safe to deliver them vaginally, so it’s important to know in advance so you can your health care provider can adjust any labor and delivery plans accordingly.
According to What to Expect, sometimes there are a few early signs that your baby is breech that you can pick up on, including how they feel in your belly, how frequently they move, and/or any vaginal bleeding you may be experiencing. The site Breech Babies club notes that some women with breech babies report pain in their ribs, but others don't, which can make it hard to diagnose their condition before delivery. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, breech babies can also be diagnosed by your doctor or midwife with a physical exam and ultrasound. The good news is once you know for sure, you'll have the information you need to make a plan for your doctor to try to turn your baby, or to schedule a C-section if they don't turn over on their own.
You Have Vaginal Bleeding
According to What to Expect, a condition called placenta previa — where your placenta is located at the bottom of your uterus and partially or entirely covers your cervix — can cause your baby to be breech, since they won't have enough room to move head-down during your third trimester. According to the same site, an early symptom of placenta previa is vaginal bleeding, which should always be reported to your health care provider.
The Amount Of Pain You Feel & Where
According to the website Breech Babies Club, some, but not all, moms with breech babies describe feeling pain in their ribs. They go on to explain that sometimes pain can be deceiving, too. Some breech babies might "feel" like they are head-down, especially if their legs are curled up high enough to kick their mom in the ribs. So, if you suspect that your baby is breech, it's best to have a health care provider take a look.
How They Feel
According to the APA, your provider may be able to feel if your baby is breech during a physical exam. What to Expect adds that a breech baby's head will feel hard at the top of your bump, and their butt will feel softer towards the bottom. Towards the end of your pregnancy, that should be the other way around.
How They Move
According to What To Expect, one cause of your baby being breech is not being able to move freely in your uterus. This might be a sign of a problem and/or complication, including a low level of amniotic fluid, scarring on your uterus, or multiples. So, if you any changes in your baby's movement, you should definitely call your doctor right away.
How They Appear On An Ultrasound
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the only way to know for sure if your baby is breech is for your health care provider to do an ultrasound. Once you know for sure, depending on how far along you are, your doctor may try to turn your baby with a procedure called an external cephalic version, or may recommend a C-section delivery if they don't turn head-down by the time you go into labor.
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