What is a Breech Position?
A breech baby happens when the baby is positioned in the birth canal with feet down (or bottom-down). This position is perfectly safe for the baby to be in inside the birth canal, until it is time for delivery. Typically, by 36 weeks, most babies move into a head-down position for delivery. However, if the baby remains in a breech position, it can sometimes make for a more difficult or complicated delivery. If the doctor determines the risk is too great to have a vaginal delivery, often times, a C-section will be performed.
There are 3 primary types of breech positions. They include:
- Frank breech. This is when the baby’s buttocks is positioned lowest in the birth canal. In this position, the knees are extended toward the abdomen and hips are flexed (legs are straight up in front of the body, with feet near the head). This is the most common breech position.
- Complete breech. In this position, the baby’s knees and hips are flexed, and folded under each other.
- Footling breech. This happens sometimes when one or both feet of the baby are pointed down toward the birth canal.
There are not usually symptoms associated with a breech baby. However, if you are 36 weeks pregnant and notice the baby’s head is pressing higher up in your abdomen or feel kicking in your lower abdomen, you may want to consult your doctor at your next appointment.
To determine whether your baby is breech, a routine exam later in the pregnancy will help to assess this. During the exam, your doctor will feel the lower and upper abdomen to determine if the baby is breech, and may use an ultrasound or perform a pelvic exam to check the baby's position.
Most of the time, doctors don’t know the exact cause of having a breech baby. However, there are reasons that correlate to a higher likelihood of a baby being breech. These reasons include:
- Pregnancy with multiples
- Premature birth in the past
- Second, or more, pregnancy
There is no scientific studies to suggest that the following suggestions will help but you can try sitting on a birthing ball or child pose as used in Yoga may help the baby change position. Also walking every day if ok by your doctor as gravity may help.
Breech deliveries require the mother to have a cesarean section in order to deliver the baby safely. Want to know more about Caesarean section deliveries? Attend a caesarean section class at Baptist Health. Select a location on our Patient Education Classes page to view classes at each of our hospitals.
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