If Your Baby is Breech
Usually in the last month before birth, most babies position themselves head down in the mother’s womb so they come out of the vagina (birth canal) head first. Sometimes, however, the buttocks or feet emerge first during childbirth. This is called a breech presentation. Most breech babies are born by a planned caesarean delivery (though an incision made in the mother’s abdomen) which is associated with certain complications such as infection and bleeding.
If your baby is breach, it might be positioned in any one of the following ways:
- Frank breech: Upwardly positioned feet and legs near the baby’s head
- Complete breech: Folded legs with feet at the level of buttocks
- Footling breech: Either one or both feet point down so that legs emerge first during delivery
Diagnosis of a breech presentation involves a physical examination of your abdomen to feel the baby’s shape and location. Ultra sound may be needed to confirm the placement of the baby.
External cephalic version (ECV)
If a breech presentation is determined, your doctor may advise a procedure called External cephalic version or ECV, ideally performed when you are at least 36 weeks pregnant. In this procedure, the doctor places his or her hands at certain positions of the abdomen, then lifts and turns the baby from the outside to enhance the chances of a normal delivery.
If ECV is done before 36 weeks, there is a possibility that the baby may revert to breech position and will need to be repeated. Also, ECV becomes more difficult near the due date, as the baby would be growing bigger each day, leaving less room for movement.