I shouldn’t be surprised that my future child is a real mover in the womb. I couldn’t stand still as a kid even if I was promised a week supply of Mars bars, though such a treat would have obviously made things worse. I was the kind of boy who was always fidgeting during class, and would often be running around in my backyard attempting to slay a dragon or trying to save Princess Leia. Now, I was far from an athletic kid (any dreams of our child becoming an Olympic gold medalist will have to be fulfilled from my wife’s genetics), but wandering and moving was something I do rather well. So, I can understand the constant womb gymnastics or karate showcase that my baby-to-be seems to enjoy participating in on a regular basis.
They say an active baby is a healthy baby, and so I’m thankful for its constant moving. But sometimes the restless baby can end up doing too much exploring in the womb and cause for some extra anxiety for the already nervous first-time parents.
I’m referring to a baby that starts to wander about in the womb, and moves its head away from the pelvis. The baby rearranges itself so that the bum is now in the pelvis area and the head is much farther up the belly. As I’ve learned in the last few months, it is better known as being in the breech position. I also called it: “the position that gave me a few more restless nights than I wanted.” Our future bundle of joy decided being head first was so passe and thought it was better to make our first time a bit more exciting.
For the record, I really didn’t need that kind of excitement—I preferred the trying to sort out which stroller was best kind of adventure.
First of all, this was going to cause a complication in our birthing plan. We wanted to do a home birth, but there was absolutely no way that could happen with a breeched birth. It looked like my dream of scarfing down some chicken wings while rooting on my Chicago Bears on the TV while also gently massaging and saying encouraging words to my labouring wife, Emily, was going to be left unfulfilled. Of course, the chances the home birth was ever going to be allowed to turn out that way was about as likely as my baby coming out fully clothed riding a unicorn. The home birth was chosen, because Emily believed it would be a less stressful environment for the baby to enter into. Plus it was the place the baby has spent the majority of his/her time, and so we hoped the baby would be less likely to catch a virus or germs. We also trust our midwives, and knew a home birth was a safe option as long as there weren’t any complications. A breeched birth was a pretty major complication.
The change to a hospital birth was not our biggest concern over a breeched birth. If we went forward with attempting a breech birth, then there were some pretty serious risks that no parent ever wants to hear about. Our child was risking either serious brain damage or even death. One of the only options to avoid a breech birth would be a caesarean section, which has its own long list of harmful side effects (though can also be a successful surgery). As first time parents, we didn’t like the options if the baby decided to not do a half somersault in the womb.
We started to look at all the possibilities of ‘encouraging’ the baby to move his/her head to the pelvis. Emily started reading about different positions she could put herself in that relaxed her muscles, and helped the baby to move towards the pelvis. The belief is that the baby naturally wants to be in the typical birth position, but sometimes needs a little aid to get there. For my part, I would shine a flashlight and whisper to the baby at the position where we wanted the head. I’d say things like, “Baby, mommy and daddy love you, but we really need you to move your head down here. You’re a Spicer and Spicers are people pleasers. It would really please mommy and daddy if you could move for us. Okay.” Emily would continue her positions to correct the baby’s position; the main one being putting her knees on the couch while she would lean forward with her arms stretched out with her hands on the ground—sort of doing a furniture assisted not-very-vertical handstand.
I like to think my encouragement and whispers motivated baby to get back in the proper birth position. Emily claims it was more likely her stretches. In the end it doesn’t matter what was the key to success, because our baby decided it likes its head near the pelvis after all. Our anxiety over a breeched birth has been wiped away, and we now have hopes the baby will have an uncomplicated entrance into this world.
Then we’ll see how much a mover and explorer our baby will be out here in a few months.