Usually a few weeks before birth, most babies will move into delivery position, with their head moving near the birth canal. If this does not happen, the baby's buttocks and/or feet, will be in place to be delivered first. This is called a breech presentation. Breech births occur in about 1 of 25 full-term births.
What are the different types of breech presentations?
Frank breech: The fetus' buttocks are aimed toward the birth canal and the legs stick straight up in front of the body. The feet are near the head.
Complete breech: The buttocks are down, with the legs folded at the knees and the feet near the buttocks.
Footling breech: One or both of the fetus' feet are pointing down and will come out first.
What causes a breech presentation?
The causes of breech presentations are not fully known. However, a breech birth is more common :
In subsequent pregnancies
In pregnancies of multiples
When there is history of premature delivery
When the uterus has too much or too little amniotic fluid
In an abnormal shaped uterus or a uterus with abnormal growths, such as fibroids.
For women with placenta previa
How is a breech presentation diagnosed?
A few weeks prior to the due date, the health care provider may place his/her hands on the mother's lower abdomen to locate the baby's head, back, and buttocks. If they think the baby is in a breech position, an ultrasound may be used to confirm. Special x-rays can also determine the baby's position and measure the pelvis to determine if a vaginal delivery of a breech baby may be attempted.
Can a breech presentation mean something is wrong?
Most breech babies are born healthy. However, they do have a higher risk for certain problems than babies born head first. Birth defects are slightly more common in breech babies. A birth defect may be the reason they have not moved into the right position before birth.
Can a breech presentation be changed?
The best time to try to turn a breech baby is between 32-37 weeks of pregnancy There are many different types of methods to use and all have different levels of success. Talk with your health care provider about which options they feel would be best for you to try.
External Version: External version is a non-surgical method in which a doctor can help move the baby within the uterus. A medication to help relax the uterus might be given as well as an ultrasound exam, to better check the position of the baby, the location of the placenta, and the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus. Gentle pushing on the lower abdomen can turn the baby into the head-down position. Throughout the external version, the baby's heartbeat will be checked closely so that if any problems should occur, the health care provider will stop turning immediately. Most attempts at external version are successful; however, as the due date gets closer this procedure is more difficult.
Chiropractic Care: The late Larry Webster, D.C., of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, developed a technique which enabled chiropractors to release stress on the pregnant woman's pelvis and cause relaxation to the uterus and surrounding ligaments. The relaxed uterus would make it easier for a breech baby to turn naturally. The technique is known as the Webster Breech Technique.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue that 82% of doctors using the Webster Technique reported success. Further, the results from the study suggest that it may be beneficial to perform the Webster Technique in the 8th month of pregnancy.