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Breech Birth

Babies move around. In the early months of almost every pregnancy, the baby will change position. In the latter months of most pregnancies, the baby will lie with its head facing downwards in the uterus, making it easier for them to be born head-first.

In around 3% of pregnancies, the baby lies with its feet or bottom facing downwards. This is known as a breech presentation.

In any birth, most of the risk is determined by how quickly and easily the head delivers. The head is the largest part of the baby. Potential complications arise with breech babies because the head delivers last. This can be further complicated if the umbilical cord gets tangled below the baby and restricts blood flow through the cord.

In the vast majority of cases, nowadays, a breech presentation is not anything to worry about. 

In some instances, it may mean you might not be able to have a vaginal birth. Many women who have a breech baby will opt for a caesarean section. This is often the least risky option for you, and your baby.

It is possible to have a vaginal birth with a breech baby. but every baby and pregnancy is different and this would be assessed and then discussed with you closer to your due date.

Every case is different. 

And you should be aware of the potential risks to you and the baby should you opt for a vaginal breech birth before you make any decisions. 

Please know, if you are faced with a breech birth, Dr Guy Skinner is a recognised expert in this area. You’ll be in very good hands.

Can The Baby Be Turned In The Womb?

Sometimes. It will depend on a number of things. Like the shape of your uterus. Or if you’re having twins. Or your waters have broken. Or you have had vaginal bleeding in the week leading up to the procedure. Or your baby’s heart rate is showing signs of distress.

But. It may be possible.

There are some techniques which can be tried, such as External Cephalic Version or ECV. 
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It is relatively safe for the baby, and it will not make you go into labour.

This technique relies on external massaging and manipulation of the baby and can be uncomfortable. For this reason, it may not be an option for everyone. You’ll be given a muscle relaxant. Your baby’s heart rate will be monitored. Should there be any complications, or should your baby show serious signs of distress, you’ll need an emergency caesarean section. You need to be aware of this, and prepared for this, before the procedure begins.    

There Are All Sorts of Reasons for Breech Babies.

– The placenta may not have moved towards the top of the uterus during pregnancy.

– If this is not the first baby, the muscles of the uterus may not be as taut and allow the baby to move.

– An unusually shaped uterus.

– The amount of amniotic fluid around the baby. Breech presentations can be a result of too much fluid, or not enough.

– Overly small babies. And overly large babies.

How will you know if the baby is breech?

Guy and our practice midwives will be able to tell you. If Guy discovers your baby is breech in the final months of your pregnancy, he will arrange an ultrasound to try and identify the cause. 

Even if the cause is not apparent, he’ll be able to talk you through your options and help you make the decision you’re most comfortable with, for you and your baby.

Having a vaginal breech birth

If you do plan on having a vaginal breech birth, you’ll be offered many of the same pain relief options as any other expectant mother.

Your baby’s heart rate will be monitored. And Guy will talk you through each step of the birth. If, at any stage, he believes you should have an emergency caesarean, you will be the first to know.

Chances of another breech baby

If you have a breech birth, there is a higher chance your next birth will also be breech. This will depend on the shape of your uterus or another underlying condition (like fibroids).
Once you have recovered, it can be a good idea to have Guy investigate these through an ultrasound. He can talk you through the reasons behind breech presentations and help you determine what, if anything, would be the best course of action for you.

FAQ’s

Yes.  In selected situations, it may be entirely appropriate to deliver your breech baby normally.

There are two considerations Guy looks for with a breech birth.

Will the baby’s head pass through the birth canal easily?

Will the baby’s umbilical cord get entangled in the lower limbs?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, Guy may recommend a caesarean section.

It’s important to know, a breech birth does not indicate there is anything wrong with your baby – it is simply where your baby settled in the last few weeks of your pregnancy.

No. Breech births are offered the same pain relief as vaginal births.