Breech Delivery


What is breech delivery?

A breech birth is when a baby is born with the bottom (buttocks) or the feet first. Most babies are in a head down (cephalic) position when they are born. Many babies are breech early in the pregnancy but turn to headfirst position toward the end of the pregnancy: The most common types of breech include:

  • Frank breech: when the baby’s bottom is showing first with the legs straight up and the feet at the baby’s head
  • Complete breech: when the baby’s bottom shows first with the legs bent at the knees and the feet down near the bottom.
  • Footling breech: when one or both of the baby’s feet are down below the bottom

Some breech positions can put the baby at risk and may need a cesarean delivery. You and your doctor will discuss the best plan of care for you and your baby.

What is the cause of a breech pregnancy?

  • A woman who has had several babies
  • A woman who is having twins or more births
  • A womb that is abnormal in shape and size (double uterus)
  • A baby that weighs less than 5 pounds (2.26kg)
  • Too much or not enough fluid around the baby
  • All or part of the afterbirth (placenta) covers the opening of the lower part of the womb (placenta previa)
  • Preterm labor

How is breech diagnosed?

Close to your delivery due date, your doctor or nurse will do an abdominal or vaginal exam and an ultrasound scan to check if your baby is in a normal position (head down) or is breech.

How is breech treated?

You and your doctor will discuss the best way to deliver your baby.
Your doctor may try to turn the baby while it is still in your womb. This is done toward the end of a normal pregnancy with your doctor putting his hands on your abdomen and gently and slowly turning the baby around. This is a procedure called external cephalic version (ECV).