Breech Baby: Types, Causes, How to Turn, & Risks

by Janine Kelbach (RNC-OB) last updated -

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The optimal position to deliver vaginally is head down, or vertex. The vertex position helps the fetus pass through the pelvis easily. Most babies will move into the vertex position, but 1 out of 25 will breech.

What is a Breech Baby?

The breech position is when the fetus is passing through the birth canal feet or bottom first. If you are receiving adequate prenatal care, it is standard practice at your last few weeks of pregnancy, the doctor will check to see which way the baby is lying. If vertex is not the position the infant is found to be in, the doctor will confirm with ultrasound and talk about the options you have to flip the baby or deliver via C-Section.

When a baby is considered “breech” in their position, it means the infant is not presenting through the birth canal with their head down, but rather, bottom down.

Four types of breech lie exist:

  • Frank Breech: The baby’s legs are stretched like the infant is reaching to his toes, where the feet are close to the head.
  • Footling Breech: One of the infant’s legs are down, feet first, covering the cervix.
  • Complete Breech: The infant is sitting up with his knees bent and bottom first.
  • Incomplete Breech: The baby has one-foot bent and one foot by his bottom.

breech baby

Causes of a Breech Baby

Right now, no distinct causes are related to a breech pregnancy. Though, there are certain things that can be a prove to be risky. They include the following:

  • Preterm labor
  • Abnormal uterus, fibroids
  • Too much amniotic fluid
  • Placenta previa
  • Multiple pregnancies

How to Turn a Breech Baby?

There are a few procedures that your doctor may suggest for a breech baby, let’s take a look.

  • External Version (EV): The doctor may offer you a procedure called an external version. An external version may cause some discomfort, but it is a relatively safe procedure. The doctor can move the infant by pushing on your abdomen on the outside, guiding the infant to the vertex position. The version is attempted between weeks 35-37, if done earlier it’s likely the infant is too small and will flip back.
  • Music: Natural ways to turn the baby include using music. You can try to place headphones on the lower part of your abdomen, and it may encourage the baby to turn towards it.
  • Chiropractic Care: You can try a chiropractor who may be able to help you move the baby.

Other natural ways to turn the baby are available but talk to your doctor to see if it is safe for you before attempting.

Risks of Breech Pregnancy

If the baby does not turn via an external version or other natural remedies, the doctor will schedule a term c-section because of the injury or death in the vaginal delivery process.

Although a breech delivery is not ideal, it’s not dangerous, unless the mode of delivery is vaginal. A C-section comes with its risks, like any surgery, but the benefits outweigh the risks of vaginal birth in the case of breech positioning.

About the Author

Janine Kelbach, Registered Nurse Certified in Inpatient Obstetrics (RNC-OB), is a freelance writer and owner of www.WriteRN.net, and she is also the  Operations Manager for the Healthcare Marketing Network. Janine has been an RN since 2006, specializing in labor and delivery, and she still works part-time at a hospital. She ventured into writing in 2012. She, her husband, and her two boys reside in Cleveland, Ohio.

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