Your baby is probably normal
Are breech babies different? Are breech babies healthy?
Adorable (temporary) breech leggies: A baby that has had its legs up alongside its body, as in a frank breech, will often come out preferring to keep his feet up by his head. A single footling, if the other foot is up by her head, will come out with the one foot up by her head.
Problems: James L Lindsey, MD writes that “Perinatal mortality is increased 2- to 4-fold (see the numbers above) with breech presentation, regardless of the mode of delivery. Deaths are most often associated with malformations, prematurity, and intrauterine fetal demise.” The PREMODA study found that breech babies have a 1.5% chance of death or serious morbidity (serious morbidity does not always mean a lasting problem).
Head Moulding: Because of the way your baby’s head sits up against the top of your womb, sometimes the breech newborn’s head is moulded in a characteristic way. It is not common. It is not a cause for concern and typically goes away in the first day or two. This link shows pictures, along with other anomalies not specific to breech. I recommend looking only if you feel you need to.
Hip Dysplasia: Some babies are born with hip dysplasia no matter their position. There is an increased risk with a breech position because the baby’s hips are wedged in the bottom, narrow part of the womb. It has to do with the breech position in the womb, and not the way the baby is born. It is highly hereditary, and more likely in girls. If your baby was butt-in-pelvis for a long time and is a girl, you may have hip dysplasia problems. Read more about it here.
Some babies are put in body casts to set the hip in its socket, and some have a soft brace. I’ve also read in threads about people double or triple cloth diapering their babies to keep their hips flexed to help. Your pediatrician will check the infant’s hips at her first visit and help you decide what to do. Here is a page about hip dysplasia and its treatment.
Torticollis: is more common in breech babies. It is a “twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side, while the chin is turned to the other. Treating torticollis that is present at birth involves stretching the shortened neck muscle. Passive stretching and positioning are used in infants and small children. These treatments are often successful, especially if they are started within 3 months of birth.” Quoted from PubMed Health.
Bruising: Many breech babies have bruising from their birth, especially a vaginal birth. Don’t be too upset if your baby’s scrotum, bum, or labia are bruised. Even bad bruising goes away relatively quickly. Head-down babies sometimes have bruising on their heads, but it is usually not a cause for concern.
Immediate Postpartum/APGAR: Breech babies are usually slower to breathe and have lower apgar scores. They are often floppy. Apgar at one minute has no consequence at 2hrs or 2 days. It probably will not help your anxiety if your own baby is slow to breathe, but just remember. They perk up, just a bit slower. If you have a provider inexperienced in breech newborns, make sure to discuss this and ask to delay cord cutting and let the baby lay on your bare chest while it perks up. Though the vaginally-born breech may have a white cord that looks lifeless, the blood will come back in and they benefit especially from delayed cord cutting. Also, until you clamp the cord, the pediatrician (who might be very nervous) can’t take the baby.
Spinal torsions and imbalance: are more likely with a breech baby because of its wonky position. This is not the kind of thing most providers will bring up or even notice. If you have a chiropractor who specializes in children, it may be a good idea to have your newborn breech checked out when it is convenient.
Old Wives Tales:Breech babies are said to be natural born healers.