A breech position or breech baby means that the baby’s position inside the uterus is such that his feet or buttocks are near the uterine mouth. The baby generally has enough room inside the uterus to change its position. By 36 weeks of pregnancy, most babies are in the head-down position, which is the best and safest position for delivery. In around four out of 100 childbirths, the baby stays in the breech position even after 36 weeks of pregnancy. Although the definitive cause of a breech baby is not known, some conditions may increase the chances of having a breech presentation:
- Early labor (before the 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- Multiple pregnancies (presence of two or more babies in the womb)
- Problems with the uterus, such as the abnormal shape of the uterus or presence of fibroids in the uterus
- Problems with the developing baby
- Placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta is on the lower part of the uterus, blocking the cervix)
- Too little or too much amniotic fluid (the fluid in the bag or water around the baby)
What are the different types of breech baby?
A breech presentation may be of different types. These include:
- Complete breech: In this breech position, the baby’s buttocks are down near the birth canal while its knees are bent so that the feet are near the buttocks.
- Frank breech: It is the commonest type of breech position. In this type of breech, the baby’s legs are stretched up so that the feet are near the head while the buttocks are the presenting part and come out first during the delivery.
- Footling breech: This means that the baby has one leg or both legs stretched out below the buttocks. Tone or both the legs are in place to come out first during delivery.
Can you naturally deliver a breech baby?
Some breech deliveries can occur through the vagina; however, many doctors prefer to deliver a breech baby by cesarean delivery. This is because there are several risks associated with the vaginal delivery of a breech baby. These risks include:
- Distress to the baby during the labor
- Injuries to the baby during or after the delivery
- Injury to the mother
- The baby’s hip socket and thigh bone may get separated during the delivery
- There may be problems with the umbilical cord, such as compression or flattening of the umbilical, during delivery that can cause nerve and brain damage in the baby due to a lack of oxygen.
How will I know if I have a breech baby?
The general signs and symptoms of a breech pregnancy are not different from any other pregnancy. In advanced pregnancies, beyond 36 weeks, if you have a breech baby you may feel:
- The baby's head is pressing high up in your belly
- The baby’s kicks are being felt in your lower belly
You must seek a doctor’s help to be sure if you have a breech. Your doctor may be able to tell you by examining your lower and upper belly. An examination through the vagina (per vagina or PV exam) may also let your doctor feel which part of your baby is closer to the birth canal. They may perform an ultrasound to be sure of your baby’s position inside the uterus.
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