Breech Birth: What is it?


Breech births occur in approximately 1 out of 25 full-term births. If you are pregnant, you may have heard of a breech birth but do not fully understand its meaning and/or implications. In most cases, a baby will move into delivery position a few weeks before delivery with his or her head moving closer to the birth canal. When this fails to happen, it is called a “breech” presentation or birth. A breech birth occurs when an unborn baby’s buttocks and/or feet are positioned to be delivered first, as opposed to his or her head.

There are three different types of breech births including the following: frank breech, complete breech and footling breech. Following is some information about each of the three different types of breech births.

In the frank breech position, the baby’s buttocks are aimed at the birth canal with his or her legs sticking straight up in front of his/her body and the feet near the head. In a complete breech presentation, the buttocks are pointing downward with the legs folded at the knees and feet near the buttocks. In a footling breech position, one or more of the baby’s feet point downward and will deliver before the rest of the body.

The causes of breech presentations are not fully understood at this time. However, the chances of having a breech birth are higher in subsequent pregnancies, pregnancies of multiples, or when their is a history of premature delivery. Breech birth is also more common in women who have placenta previa or an abnormally shaped uterus.

While most breech babies are born healthy, there is a slightly elevated risk for certain types of problems. A few weeks prior to your due date, your healthcare provider will place his or her hands on your lower abdomen to locate the baby’s head, back and buttocks. If a breech position is suspected, it can be confirmed using ultrasound. Special X-rays can also be used to determine the baby’s position and to help determine whether or not a vaginal delivery can be safely attempted.

If you would like to get more information about breech births or if you suspect that your baby may be in the breech position, talk to your OBGYN today. He or she can confirm the position of your unborn child determine the best course of action, if any is required.