What is breech birth ?


Most babies are in the head down position  a few weeks prior to birth. When the baby is in the bottom or feet first position, this is known as a breech baby or breech birth. Most babies are breech in early pregnancy. However as the delivery date approaches, they turn into the head first position.

breech birth

What are the different types of breech birth ?


The different types of breech presentation are :


Frank breech : This is when the baby’s buttocks are aimed at the birth canal with it’s  legs  stretched up and  feet near the head.


Complete breech : In this type, the baby is bottom-first, with knees bent.


Footling breech : This occurs when one leg is lowered over the mother’s cervix.


What are the causes of a breech birth ?


The exact cause of breech birth is unknown, however data shows that it may be related to the following scenarios.

  • multiple pregnancies
  • abnormally high amniotic fluid
  • history of premature birth
  • subsequent pregnancies
  • women with placenta previa
  • in cases of abnormally shaped uterus or uterus with abnormal growths such as fibroids


How is a breech birth diagnosed ?

When your due date is getting close  ( few weeks to due date ) ,your healthcare provider will place his hands in your  lower abdomen to locate the baby’s head, neck and buttocks. If he thinks the baby is in a breech position, he will order an ultrasound to confirm it.


Can a breech baby be delivered without cesarean ?


Although some breech babies may be delivered vaginally, it is generally safer to deliver head first. Breech babies delivered vaginally are likely to face more complications and injuries during or after delivery than  babies who are delivered head first.


These babies may face complications with the umbilical cord such as the cord  being compressed during delivery, which can cause nerve and brain damage due to lack of oxygen.


Such babies may also develop a birth defect when  the baby’s hip socket and the thighbone become separated.


Doctor usually develop breech babies by cesarean section.


Can a breech baby mean something is wrong ?


Even though most breech babies are healthy, it could also be the result of a birth defect which resulted in the baby not moving to the right  position.


Can breech presentation be changed ?

It is best to turn breech babies between 32 to 37 weeks of pregnancy . The method of turning a baby varies and the success rate varies as well.


MEDICAL TECHNIQUES : These involves the following :


External  version : This non surgical technique involves moving the baby in the uterus. During this procedure, medication is given to relax the uterus. An ultrasound is used to monitor the baby’s position, position of the placenta and  amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus. The baby’s heart rate is monitored throughout the whole procedure. This technique has a high success rate but becomes more difficult to do when due date is close.


Chiropractic care :  The Webster technique by the late   Larry Webster, D.C., of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association reduces stress on the pregnant woman’s pelvis. This causes  the uterus and surrounding tissue to relax, making it easier for breech baby to turn naturally

NATURAL TECHNIQUES : These risk free techniques may be tried at home .


The breech tilt :  This technique is best done on empty stomach when the baby is active.  Large firm pillows are used to raise the hips 12″ or 30cm off the floor for 10-15 minutes. This is done  three times a day. During the technique, you need to think about the baby without tensing your body, especially in the abdominal area.


Music : You can put headphones on the lower part of your abdomen and playing either music or sounds of your voice . This encourages the baby to move towards the sounds and out of a breech position.


Note : Talk to your doctor before trying anything at home.


In what situations might a doctor  consider a vaginal delivery for a breech baby ?


Doctors usually prefer a C-section for a breech baby but in some cases, the doctor may try a vaginal delivery. The following conditions are necessary to try a vaginal delivery

  • the labor process is smooth and steady with the cervix widening as the baby descends
  • baby is full term and in the full frank position
  • its has been estimated by the health care provider that the baby is not too big or the mother’s cervix is not too narrow for the baby
  • baby shows no signs of distress
  • anesthesia is available and a c-section available on short notice


Content Sources
Breech presentation.American Pregnancy Association . http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/breech-presentation/. Accessed October 7 , 2014
Breech Babies: What Can I Do if My Baby is Breech? American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/pregnancy-newborns/labor-childbirth/breech-babies-what-can-i-do-if-my-baby-is-breech.html. Accessed October 5, 2014
Breech birth. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000623.htm.Accessed October 5, 2014

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