You probably know somebody who was born as a breech baby, in other words, a person who came to life in a breech presentation. But how does it happen?
When can we talk about such a scenario when giving birth? Well, for a start, you have to know that most kids show off their moves inside the womb up to the week 36 of pregnancy, moment in which they turn into a head-down position in preparation for birth. However, about 3 to 4% of them remain head-up when the D-day comes, so that the babies' buttocks are placed to be delivered first, instead.
Do you want to know what a breech position can entail during birth? Then, don't miss the upcoming lines.
Breech baby: Why is him in a breech position?
The causes of having breech babies aren't fully known yet, though experts aim at different reasons to account for it, including:
- Multiple pregnancy: if you are carrying more than one child, one or more of your babies may come across problems to switch to the head-down position, as the space in the uterus becomes more limited to move freely.
- Volume of amniotic fluid: either having too much or too little amniotic fluid in the placenta can cause your child to come in a breech presentation. Why? Because if there's too much space, he can easily flip between a head-down position and the breech one, whereas the lack of it can make it difficult for the child to initiate the way down towards the cervix.
- Uterine abnormalities: when the uterus presents alterations in its form and structure, the baby may have trouble to move and change positions.
- Foetal defects: although it's unusual, some babies with central nervous system abnormalities and muscular problems are more likely to end up in a breech position.
- The location of the placenta: depending on where the placenta is located, like covering the cervix or being close to the top of the uterine wall, your baby may struggle to move downwards.
Types of breech position
A breech baby can adopt three main positions:
- Frank breech: this is the most typical breech position, and it's recognisable by the baby having his legs straight up in front of his body, with his feet near his head and the buttocks placed to come out first.
- Complete breech: the baby sits cross-legged and has his head up and his buttocks next to the birth canal.
- Footling breech: the so-called incomplete breech occurs when one or both baby's legs are stretched out, hanging down below the buttocks. When this happens, the little one is likely to come feet-first.
Breech baby: Signs and diagnosis
Most women who have a breech baby on the way don't notice any particular symptom. Yet, they could suspect it if, past 36 weeks pregnant, they feel the baby kicking in their lower abdomen and the child's head pressing upwards, instead. Of course, any doubt will be cleared up by your doctor, who will determine your baby's position by exploring with his hands, feeling the uterus and the outside of your abdomen. If the little one's head is in the top part of the uterus, that means he's breech. However, he or she will do an ultrasound in order to confirm it. The doctor my try to turn the baby to the right position for delivery.
Risk factors for the baby to be in breech position
There are certain conditions that have been associated with a breech baby, though you can't assume your baby will be one just based on them. The common risk factors are having had a previous breech baby or going through a premature birth (as many babies are breech before reaching the last stage of pregnancy). Also, if you or Dad were breech babies at birth, your munchkin will be at a higher risk of it as well. Smoking and putting on too much weight during pregnancy have also been related to the breech position.
What happens if your baby is still breech during delivery? Well, if the doctor doesn't succeed in turning the baby, by doing an external cephalic version (ECV), you'll most likely undergo a C-section to have your child delivered. A vaginal breech delivery is hardly ever viable, since it can lead to many complications.
To sum up, having a breech baby isn't that uncommon, so you can't rule out that possibility. Fortunately, nowadays it's nothing you should worry about, as long as you count on proper medical assistance.