- What is a breech birth?
- Can a breech position be corrected before the birth?
- My baby is in a breech position. Does this mean I have to have a caesarean section?
What is a breech birth?
A breech birth is when your baby is born either feet or bottom first, instead of the normal head first. It is thought around 4% of babies are born in a breech position.
For most of the pregnancy the baby is able to float freely in the womb (uterus). Towards the end of the pregnancy, some time around the eighth month, the baby settles into a particular position in the womb.
Because there isn't much room in the womb at this point, the baby tries to make the most of what room there is by settling into a vertical, head-down position, known as the vertex position. By the time labour begins, almost 96% of babies are in this position. Most of the remainder are in a breech position.
Can a breech position be corrected before the birth?
Sometimes a doctor or midwife will try to manually move the baby into the correct position. This may work; however in some cases, the baby will refuse to move or will rotate back into the breech position.
My baby is in a breech position. Does this mean I have to have a caesarean section?
This depends on the circumstances. Some hospitals favour a caesarean section because a breech birth tends to be longer and more difficult as the babys bottom will not push its way down the birth canal as efficiently as the head. However a caesarean section is not necessary in many cases of breech presentation. Your obstetrician will discuss this with you before you go into labour.
There are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration, for example the weight of the baby and its actual position. Certain breech positions make vaginal delivery impossible:
- Frank breech position: This is when the bottom is nearest the vagina and the legs are extended up towards the face. Vaginal delivery is possible. Forceps may be required.
- Incomplete breech position: This is when one or both of your baby's legs or knees are closest to the vagina. Vaginal delivery is often impossible and a caesarean section is needed.
- Complete breech position: This is when the baby is sitting cross-legged. Vaginal delivery is almost always impossible and a caesarean section is required.
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