What A Breech Baby Means For Your Pregnancy

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Yesterday, Brooklyn Decker posted a selfie with a heating pad "on the poon," and an ice pack "on the belly," with the caption: "File this under breech baby urban myths." Last month she shared a similar photo laying on the couch while her husband Andy Roddick burned Chinese herbs by her feet, to try to flip her upside-down baby around. Kim Kardashian West has some experience with this, too. During her last pregnancy, she said she "lay practically upside-down three times a day for 15 minutes," because Saint was breech.
If you're not hip to this trend in celebrity parenting, "breech" is a fancy word for "butt," and it just means that a baby is positioned to come out butt, feet, or both butt and feet, first, according to Lynn L. Simpson, MD, FACOG, professor of women's health in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. "Rather than getting into the head-down position — which is what you need for a vaginal birth — the fetus gets its butt down," Dr. Simpson says. This is fairly common, and about 3 to 4% of all babies at term are breech, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Most practitioners and clinicians won't offer a vaginal delivery of a breech baby, because delivering a baby's head last can be risky, Dr. Simpson says. So, a breech baby usually is delivered via C-section, she says. (Some studies have found that 86% of breech babies are delivered via C-section, so it's not impossible to deliver vaginally.) "Or you can try to do things that might facilitate the baby becoming head-down," she says. And that's where the Chinese herbs and urban myths come in. But often times babies will just turn on their own — even ones that are breech at 34 weeks — so everyone is different, Dr. Simpson says.
Ahead, Dr. Simpson and Fahimeh Sasan, DO, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Science, tackle the FAQs of these in-utero acrobatics.