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Breech Presentation

With breech presentation, your baby is in a buttocks- or feet-first position. Babies are usually in a head-first position. A breech presentation can make it hard for the baby’s head to fit through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause lack of oxygen or nerve damage in your baby.

Checking for Breech Presentation

Your healthcare provider can tell that your baby is in a breech presentation by gently pressing on your belly. If after about 35 weeks your baby still isn’t in a head-first position, you may have a test called ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to form an image of your baby on a screen.

Types of Breech Presentations

As you near your due date, your baby may be in one of the following three breech presentations:

Baby in frank breech position in pelvic bones.

Frank Breech

The baby’s buttocks point down toward the birth canal. The legs extend up toward the head.

Baby in complete breech position in pelvic bones.

Complete Breech

The baby sits cross-legged.The buttocks point down and the knees are bent. The feet are tucked under the legs.

Baby in footling breech position in pelvic bones.

Footling Breech

One or both of the baby’s feet or legs are stretched down into the birth canal. The buttocks are also pointing downward.

Can You Have a Vaginal Delivery?

Whether your breech baby can be born vaginally depends on the size of your baby and of your birth canal. Your healthcare provider will discuss this with you.

Delivering Your Baby

Even if the baby’s position can’t be changed, a breech baby can sometimes be born vaginally. But more often, a cesarean section (surgical delivery) is done. You will have anesthesia (medicine to block pain). But you may remain awake and alert.

Once You Deliver

Whether you give birth vaginally or by cesarean section, you and your baby will most likely be fine. Just because your baby is in a breech position doesn’t mean that he or she will have health problems.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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