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Breech Birth

breech-birth-175wWhat is a Breech Birth?

Most babies are positioned head down in the womb weeks before birth. When the baby fails to get in this position, the baby's bottom and/or feet will be in position to be delivered first. This is a breech birth. Breech delivery is the single most common abnormal presentation.

What are the Different Types of Breech Presentations?

  • Frank Breech: In this fetal position, the baby's buttocks is down and the legs are sticking straight up in front of the body with the feet near the head.
  • Complete Breech: This is where the buttocks is pointing downward, but the legs are folded at the knees and the feet are near the bottom.
  • Footling Breech: In this position, one "single footling breech" or both "double footling breech" of the feet point downward and the legs emerge first.This is also known as in "incomplete breech".
  • Kneeling Breech: This is a very rare position in which the baby is in a kneeling position, with one or both legs extended at the hips and flexed at the knees.

Why are Some Babies Breech?

The causes of a breech presentation are not fully understood, often there is no obvious reason why a baby is breech. However, the data collected over the years shows that a breech birth is more common when any one of these factors is present:

  • Abnormal shape of the pelvis, uterus, or abdominal wall
  • History of premature delivery
  • In subsequent pregnancies
  • In pregnancies of multiples
  • When the uterus has too much or two little amniotic fluid

Can a Breech Presentation be Changed? 

The methods of turning a breech baby vary and the success rate for each method can also vary. Evaluating your options is a good discussion to have with your birth team. There is a non-surgical technique to move the baby in the uterus called "External Version". There are also several natural techniques for helping or encouraging the baby move out of the breech position.

Vaginal Delivery versus Cesarean for Breech Birth - Do I have an Option?

There is a widespread acceptance that breech babies should be delivered by Cesarean section, but it has not been proven to be safer for the baby than natural active breech birth. Caesarean operations do not guarantee delivery of healthy babies, breech or otherwise. Most of the medical community does not believe in attempting a vaginal delivery for a breech presentation. However, some will delay making a final decision until the woman is in labor. There are women who are successfully delivering their breech babies vaginally. Carefully explore your birthing options as you gather all the facts regarding why your baby is breech.

Want More in Depth Information on Breech Birth?

If you want a comprehensive examination of everything surrounding breech babies we suggest Breech Birth (Sept 2003) by Benna Waites. Another excellent resource for learning about holistic approaches to breech birth is spinningbabies.com.