Breech Birth: What's the Risk?

During the final weeks of pregnancy, the baby will move into delivery position. Ideally, this means the baby’s head will be down, or closest to the birth canal. A correct delivery position minimizes complications for the baby and mother during a vaginal delivery. The “head first” position gives the baby sufficient oxygen and allows the rest of the body to pass through the birth canal more easily. However, not all babies are in the correct position prior to delivery. If you’ve been told your baby is breech, this means that your baby’s head is up and the feet or buttocks are positioned to enter the birth canal first.

Breech presentations are very common in pregnancy. It certainly doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong as a mother-to-be. Some women find out that their baby is breech several weeks before birth, and they are able to encourage the baby to turn. There are many methods to use at home if you’re willing to try. However, if your baby is still breech on the day of your delivery, don’t panic. Breech babies can be born healthy using a cesarean delivery. While a C-section may not be your preferred choice of delivery, it may be necessary in order to avoid the following risks of a breech birth:

Cord prolapse – If the baby’s body passes through the canal first, the umbilical cord is more likely to become compressed. The squeezing of the cord restricts vital oxygen and blood supply to the baby during delivery. 

Body damage – When the baby’s head passes through the birth canal first, it opens the cervix enough to allow the rest of the body to pass through without harm. However, in a breech birth, the body of the baby is delivered first, which may not stretch the cervical opening properly for the head. This can be especially true for premature babies, where the head is proportionally larger than the rest of the small, fragile body.

At North Pointe OB/GYN, we are exceptionally equipped to handle deliveries that involve breech positioned babies. Our physicians are uniquely qualified to treat all types of high-risk pregnancies with most advanced techniques and compassionate care.

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