Most of the time during pregnancy, nature will take its course and your baby will eventually turn to where he is head down and waiting to drop into the pelvis and make his descent into the world. Occasionally however, a baby will remain in the head up position where his head is near your ribs and his butt is at the top of your pelvis. This is called breech presentation, often referred to simply as your baby being breech.
Several things can lead to your baby being breech. Most of the time it just happens, and there is no medical reason for it. It can happen with twins or other pregnancies with multiples as there isn’t enough room in the uterus all the time for the babies to flip around. It can also happen if there is a smaller than normal amount of amniotic fluid, a short umbilical cord, or other uterine abnormalities. If your baby has a congenital defect he is more likely to be breech as well.
Less than 5% of babies are breech when a full term labor begins. Premature babies are more likely to be breech as they have not had enough time to turn around. At 28 weeks of pregnancy 25% of babies are still in the breech position. It is the weight of the babies head that draws on the gravity to pull your baby to a head down position, and therefore the percentage of breech babies goes down drastically as the baby gets bigger and the end of pregnancy nears.
There are actually four different versions of breech presentation in babies. They include:
- Frank Breech where your baby comes out bottom first and the feet are up by your babies ears
- Complete Breech where your baby is sitting cross-legged and comes out bottom first
- Footling Breech where your baby’s bottom is higher in the uterus, but his feet are at the opening of the pelvic bone, set to come out first
- Kneeling Breech where your baby is in a kneeling position at the top of the pelvic bone
Frank Breech is the most common way a breech baby will be presented. Both the Footling Breech and the Kneeling Breech are very rare positions.
Many couples will prefer the doctor or midwife to try an external method of tuning the baby from the outside prior to labor beginning. This is done in the hospital and generally the baby is monitored on your baby to make sure he does not experience fetal distress.
If the baby cannot be turned, or the couple chooses to not try turning the baby, then a c-section will often be scheduled in order to deliver a breech baby. There are risks to delivering a full term breech baby, Including a prolapsed umbilical cord, oxygen deprivation, the baby’s head getting stuck since the bottom is softer and may not dilate the cervix as much as it should, as well as possible injury to the baby’s brain and skull. Because of these risks, doctors will generally not agree to do vaginal breech births, and will instead insist on delivering the baby by c-section as it is safer for both the mother and the baby.
Do you know your baby's birth stone? Birth Flower? How about when you'll be handing over the car keys? Check out our popular Fun Birthday Facts Calculator to discover fun trivia about your baby's birth or due date!