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Childbirth Cubby

Footling Breech Baby
by Barbara Parker, RN, ARNP, CNM

Q. I was told that my baby is footling breech. I am 33 weeks. Both my belly and the baby are measuring 35 weeks. The doctor said we would watch it and see what happens but it does mean a c-section. However, this weekend I have had some women tell me that this is very serious and most babies in this position are born with cerebral palsy or other medical problems due to lack of oxygen. Is this true? What percentage of babies are turned in this way? My ob didn't give any hope that the baby would turn this late in the game.

A. A footling breech is a baby with both feet coming out the cervix first. Partial breech is with one foot up and one foot trying to come out the cervix. A "complete" breech is with the baby coming (pardon the expression) butt first, with feet up by the head or folded around the abdomen. There is no increased risk of CP just because the baby is positioned this way, but any vaginal breech delivery has an increased risk of CP and damage to the baby, more so than a vertex (head first) delivery.

I take it that your doctor is not willing to discuss "external version" or trying to turn the baby from the outside. I think it's worth asking about.

You can also try the midwife's trick--lay down on a 30 degree incline, with head down and feet up for 30 minutes twice a day. An ironing board propped up on the sofa seat works great. Lay with your head down by the floor, and your feet up on the "sofa" end.

You can also try heat/cold to persuade the baby to turn. Put a heating pad on the lower part of the abdomen and an ice pack where the baby's head is on the upper abdomen. They prefer heat to cold, and may turn to get away from the cold.

Neither of these methods will hurt you or the baby, and they just might help--you never know till you try!!

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