Breech birth

Although babies will move about during your pregnancy, the majority of babies will have moved into a head down position before birth. However, for a small percentage of women this doesn’t happen and the baby may present in the breech (bottom or feet first position). If your baby is in the breech position at 36 weeks gestation your obstetrician or midwife will discuss your options for the safe delivery of your baby 

You may be offered a procedure known as external cephalic version (ECV) where a skilled obstetrician will gently try and turn your baby by applying pressure to your abdomen. This procedure is safe but can sometimes be uncomfortable and is always performed on our Labour Ward. ECV is successful in turning approximately 50% of babies. 

If your baby turns successfully then your pregnancy will be allowed to continue normally as they are now cephalic (head down). However, if your baby remains breech then your options for birth will be discussed with you. This can be either by vaginal breech birth or by caesarean section. 

It will be recommended that you have a caesarean section if your baby is: 

  • Presenting with its feet first (known as a ‘footling breech’ 
  • Larger or smaller than average. 
  • Your placenta is low lying (known as ‘placenta praevia’) 
  • Your baby is in a difficult position. 
  • You have other pregnancy complications. 

A breech delivery is classed as a ‘high risk’ birth and it is advised that you give birth in the labour ward. 

Further information can be found on the NHS website below:

What happens if your baby is breech? Information from the NHS about what happens if your baby is breech.


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