What Does It Mean If Your Baby Is Breech?

It would seem that rushing headlong into life is the perfect way to begin your existence on Earth. But what happens if you enter the world feet first? Does it mean you have any less enthusiasm for landing on the planet, or does it mean you ‘hit the ground running’? Does it mean your IQ is lower than a headfirst person? Does it make you special?

Basically, when a baby is ‘breech’, it just means that he has positioned himself for birth with his feet pointing downwards towards his mother’s birth canal. Still, there are other positions that are termed breech, even though it’s not necessarily the feet that are coming out first. A ‘frank breech’ is where the baby’s bottom is in position to be delivered first, and often, doctors advise that a C-section be performed to avoid any risks during childbirth.

There are four main reasons why a baby might end up in breech position:

1. If you are having a smaller than average baby.
2. In multiple pregnancies, one baby may be lying in the breech position.
3. There may not be enough, or may be too much, amniotic fluid.
4. If the placenta is covering the womb’s entrance.

During regular visits to the doctor or midwife, your baby’s position is gauged by feeling the abdomen. The doctor or midwife will actually be able to feel how the baby is lying and will amuse you by telling you “this is a foot”, “this is an elbow” and “this is the head”. If it looks like you’re carrying a baby in breech position, an ultrasound may be suggested to confirm the diagnosis as it’s important that during delivery, everyone knows which way the baby is lying.

If you’ve ever heard of babies “turning in the womb”, it’s usually a breech baby being discussed. Many breech babies will literally turn around as the pregnancy progresses, sometimes even just a few days before birth. Your doctor may even try to turn the baby manually in an attempt to ensure a headfirst birth.

If your baby is in breech position when you go into labor, your Ob-gyn may still try to turn him. Usually you will be kept abreast of these possibilities as your pregnancy progresses.

Your doctor will determine the best course of action according to your health, your baby’s health, how many babies you’ve previously delivered and what kind of deliveries they were. The baby’s size and actual position will also be an important factor. Many doctors would suggest the C-section route for their patients since it is a more controlled procedure and leaves little room for unexpected outcomes. However, if a breech baby is born vaginally, the delivery will usually require the use of forceps to help the baby emerge, and an episiotomy (a cut to the perineum) will also help facilitate the delivery.

Making an informed decision is vital to your health and the health of your baby. Never assume that a C-section is the only way to go, but also don’t assume that a breech birth will be a walk in the park.

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