Breech Birth & What to Expect

It surprises many people to find out that during childbirth the baby’s position in your womb is absolutely critical to having a safe and complication free birth. The correct position is where a baby’s head is downwards, so that when you push during a contraction, your baby emerges headfirst. It is considered a complication of pregnancy when a baby is not in this position.

What is a breech birth?

A baby is considered in breech when he or she is not in the safe head downwards position. A breech birth typically involves the baby in a bottom downwards position, and requires certain measures to be taken for your safety and that of your child.

Your midwife or doctor can observe the position of the baby prior to labour using an ultrasound. Usually the baby will move into a head down position during the third trimester. If this has not happened, then your doctor or your midwife will talk to you about your options and how to have a safe delivery. If you were considering a home birth for example, you are likely to be advised against it, as a hospital setting would be much safer.

Why is the position of my baby important?

Considering how much fuss is made about the position of your baby prior to childbirth, you may be wondering why the subject is so important. The position of your baby during labour affects how long childbirth will take and how painful, it also has important ramifications in terms of your baby’s health, as in some positions, for example, the chances of your baby’s breathing being disrupted is higher.

What happens if my baby is in breech?

If your baby is an unusual position then your doctors can attempt a repositioning procedure called external cephalic version, often abbreviated to ECV. This is a simple procedure where pressure is applied to your abdomen in an attempt to adjust your baby’s position. If ECV is successful then you no longer have the problem of a breech birth.

If ECV doesn’t work then chances are you will be offered a C-Section. This is probably the safest way of delivering a baby in breech, and is sometimes referred to as a Caesarean Section. The C-Section is a simple surgical procedure, which involves making an incision into your belly through which the baby can be safely delivered. This may sound a bit daunting at first, but you will be given anaesthesia, and the incision will be carefully repaired by your surgeon.

In some cases a caesarean may be planned, but you might go into labour earlier than expected. In these cases your doctor might decide that it’s best to forgo the surgery and instead opt for a vaginal breech birth.

Fortunately there are many methods of dealing with babies in breech at the moment. If you do have any concerns about a potential procedure or about breech births you should always talk to your midwife or doctor, their experience in the field will go a long way towards comforting you and providing you with the information most relevant to your particular case.

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