Definition:  A breech baby is one who is born either butt or feet first.  Babies may turn around throughout early pregnancy, but by 36 weeks, the baby should be head down. In 3-4% of pregnancies, the baby remains breech.  There are three types of breech presentation (see diagrams).



Risk Factors:  Often the cause of a breech presentation is unknown, but there are some risk factors.

  • Premature labor and delivery
  • Twin or triplet pregnancy
  • Low birth-weight babies
  • Birth defects
  • Fibroids or abnormal uterine shape (ie- "heart-shaped uterus")
  • Low amniotic fluid
  • Low lying placenta


Diagnosis:  Your doctor can determine if your baby is breech by either an abdominal or vaginal exam.  An ultrasound may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.



            Cesarean birth is recommended in most cases.  If a vaginal breech delivery is attempted, the baby's head can get trapped in the birth canal after the body is delivered.  There is also an increased risk of the umbilical cord delivering prior to the infant.  Both of these situations, although rare, can be very dangerous to the mother and baby.  Due to these indications, vaginal delivery is usually not an option. 


Your doctor may offer an external version to avoid surgery.  To perform a version, you will be admitted to the hospital at approximately 36-37 weeks.  Your doctor will attempt to manually rotate the baby while monitoring the baby with sonogram and fetal heart monitors.  Versions are successful approximately 60% of the time.  Although a version is a relatively safe procedure, there are several risks including rupture of membranes, fetal distress, labor, or premature separation of the placenta (placental abruption).  If the version is unsuccessful, you will then need to schedule the cesarean section, usually around 39 weeks.


Follow-up:  If you have a Cesarean section, you will need to talk to your doctor about the risks of attempting a vaginal delivery in future pregnancies (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section – VBAC).  In addition, depending on the cause of the breech presentation, you may be at risk for having another breech baby.  You should discuss these issues with your doctor.

739 Irving Avenue - Suite 530 Syracuse, NY 13210 Tel: 315-478-1158 - Fax: 315-478-3014

site developed by laurieferger.com