Baby Is Breech! Now What?
If your baby is in a breech position, you may be wondering what happens now. Your doctor may attempt to turn the baby, and you may still be able to deliver vaginally, if your doctor is comfortable with this. Many times, however, a C-section is necessary. Babies in the breech position seem to have a higher risk of birth defects, but this is due to the defect itself and not the abnormal birth position.
At some point during the last few weeks of pregnancy, if not sooner, most babies move into (and remain in) a head-down position, known as a "vertex presentation." This position allows the head to move through the birth canal with the least amount of difficulty. However, if the baby remains in a head-up position, this is known as a breech presentation. There are three different types of breech presentations:
- Frank breech (bottom down, feet straight up toward the head)
- Complete breech (bottom down, legs folded down near the bottom)
- Footling breech (one foot or both feet down).
Babies in any of the breech presentations, with the neck stretched, looking up instead of the normal tucked-head position, are sometimes called "stargazers."
Up until your baby is descending into the birth canal, it is possible that he or she may turn head down. In one study, more than half of the babies who were breech at 32 weeks had spontaneously turned without any help by delivery. However, the closer you get to delivery, the less likely this is to happen.
Babies who are born prematurely have a higher risk for being in breech presentation, simply because they have had less time in which to turn spontaneously and because it is very normal for babies to change positions frequently early on.