Shay Mitchell Learned Her Baby Is In a Breech Position—Here's What That Means
She also revealed that she's working with a doula as part of her birth plan.
Ever since announcing she was pregnant with her first child back in June, Shay Mitchell has been chronicling her pregnancy in her YouTube series, "Almost Ready." Dropping episodes every other week, Mitchell gives an honest, heartfelt, and usually hilarious look at her journey to becoming a first-time mom.
In a recent episode aptly titled "Not Your Average Baby Shower," the Pretty Little Liars star is first seen enjoying an unconventional baby shower with her pals. Donned in matching pink outfits, Mitchell and her friends go to see raucous strip show Magic Men Live! in Hollywood to celebrate her soon-to-be-born baby girl.
However, things get a little more serious later in the episode, when Mitchell learns from her doctor that her baby is in a breech position.
At her 35-week check-in appointment, Mitchell discovers that though her baby girl is healthy, she is in a breech position. This means Mitchell could need a C-section if the baby doesn't rotate or move back to the ideal position before the delivery, something she seemingly hadn't planned on beforehand. (Related: Keira Knightley Just Wrote a Powerful, Candid Essay About What It's Really Like to Give Birth)
ICYDK, a breech pregnancy happens when the baby is positioned head-up in the woman's uterus, meaning the feet (rather than the head) are pointed toward the birth canal, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). During the last weeks of pregnancy, a fetus will typically move around so their head does come out first during birth. But some babies remain with their buttocks, feet, or both in place to come out first, which often leads to the need for a C-section to deliver more safely.
An ultrasound or exam of the pelvis and abdomen can confirm the baby's positioning in the final weeks of pregnancy. A breech birth happens in about 1 out of every 25 full-term births, and it tends to be more common in second pregnancies, multiple pregnancies (such as twins or triplets), or with conditions like fibroids (tumors that grow in or on the uterus or womb), placenta previa (when the baby's placenta covers all or part of the mother's cervix), or when there is too much or too little amniotic fluid, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Fortunately, though, most breech births result in a healthy delivery overall. C-sections appear to be the safest option in these cases, as multiple studies show there are significantly fewer newborn deaths among breech babies who are delivered via C-section compared to those who are delivered vaginally.
Though breech babies are typically born healthy, the risk for birth defects is slightly higher, per the American Pregnancy Association, so receiving care and guidance from your medical team is especially important for parents-to-be.
When a baby is in the breech position, some pregnant women receive an external cephalic version (ECV), a procedure in which your doctor manually attempts to shift the fetus to a head-down position to prepare for a vaginal birth. If the ECV is not attempted (or does not work), the person will typically plan for a C-section delivery instead. (Related: 7 Moms Share What It's Really Like to Have a C-Section)
In Mitchell's most recent episode of "Almost Ready", her ob-gyn suggests they consider doing an ECV if her baby doesn't move to a head-down position. "I think we should get [the ECV] organized in the next three or four days," he tells Mitchell, who seems overwhelmed by the idea of undergoing the procedure.
"I don't know how the hell that's going to go because I had somebody tell me that was like, almost just as bad as labor," Mitchell tells boyfriend Matte Babel later in the car after her ob-gyn appointment.
ICYDK, Kim Kardashian West underwent an ECV in 2015 just before giving birth to her and Kanye West's son, Saint, and she indeed said the procedure was "probably more painful than childbirth."
Later in the episode, Mitchell shares that she's willing to "try everything in the book" to get her baby to flip around in her uterus so she can avoid an ECV. She's seen getting acupuncture, visiting a prenatal chiropractor for a massage, and she even tries putting headphones on her stomach to help stimulate the baby. "Hopefully something will work," she says.
Lo and behold, at Mitchell's next ob-gyn appointment, an ultrasound reveals that her baby shifted to a head-down position, meaning she won't need to undergo an ECV. "Oh my gosh it worked!" a shocked Mitchell says in the video.
TBH, it's not clear whether any of Mitchell's alternative strategies actually had an effect on the baby's change in position, but the You star was relieved nonetheless.
Mitchell also recently shared that she's started working with a doula. At her baby shower celebration, Mitchell's friend, Melissa Molinaro suggests hiring a doula or pregnancy coach to help with Mitchell's fears around giving birth. "When you prepare for an audition, do you have a coach? When you train for a workout, do you have a coach? … This is about to be the biggest journey," Molinaro told Mitchell.
A doula is someone who is professionally trained to provide "emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth," according to the American Pregnancy Association, which adds that "the doula's purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience." (Related: How Mama Glow Founder Latham Thomas Wants to Change the Birthing Process for the Better)
New celeb mom Amy Schumer recently opened up about her experience using a doula, who helped her and husband, Chris Fischer "feel totally secure and supported throughout [her] pregnancy and the birth process," she wrote in a recent Instagram post.
As for Mitchell, she and Babel met with their doula, Andrey and asked her all kinds of questions, from whether or not they should use an epidural to how soon after birth she can have a celebratory drink (#relatable).
Here's hoping that the rest of Mitchell's pregnancy is smooth sailing; that no matter what decisions she makes, she has the support of loved ones, her medical team, and her doula; and that both she and her baby have a safe delivery.