Vaginal Breech

When coming to the end of your pregnancy there are a number of things your midwife is likely to check up on, just to make sure that you and your baby are as ready as possible for the actual birth. One of these checks is usually to determine the position of your baby as you approach your due date.

The safest position for delivery is called the cephalic position, where your baby is in a head down position during labour and childbirth. Any other position is considered a complication of pregnancy because of the potential risks to both mother and child. These abnormal positions are also referred to as breech births, and your doctor will talk you through your options if your baby is in breech.

What is a vaginal breech birth?

A vaginal breech birth is what happens when your doctor’s other attempts to avoid a breech birth haven’t worked. Usually your doctor will attempt to reposition your baby prior to labour, or schedule a surgery called a C-section, as these are the safest options for breech births. However in instances where the surgery is not advisable, vaginal breech births are attempted.

A vaginal breech birth is basically when a baby in breech is delivered through the vagina as opposed to alternative surgical means.

When are vaginal breech births performed?

Vaginal breech births are only performed when safe and where your doctor has had previous experience and training in breech births. They are also only permitted where emergency C-Section facilities are available if necessary.

If your baby is in a breech position then usually your doctor will schedule a C-Section, and in many cases of vaginal breech births this route is chosen because of pre-mature labour, which makes the C-Section less plausible in your doctor’s opinion.

When are vaginal breech births not advised?

There are a number of circumstances where a vaginal breech birth is strongly advised against because of potential risks to either yourself or your baby. These are:

  • If you suffer from pre-eclampsia (a condition which varies in severity but always involves high blood pressure which can be dangerous during difficult deliveries).
  • If your baby is either too small (below 2kg in weight) or too big (above 3.8kg) then vaginal breech births are considered too difficult.
  • If you have had a C-Section in the past.
  • If your pelvis is too small for a safe delivery.
  • If your baby is in a position where the pressure of childbirth poses a significant physical risk (for example if your baby’s neck is tilted at an awkward angle).
  • If your baby is in a particular kind of breech position called ‘footling breech’ (where his or her feet are below his or her behind).
  • If your placenta is in a lower than usual position.

These factors would make a vaginal breech birth too risky, and alternative methods like an emergency C-Section will be recommended.

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