Breech Birth Information

Other risk factors include:
-- A short umbilical cord
-- Abnormal placental attachment (low-lying placenta or placenta previa)
-- Fetal abnormality (congenital defects)
-- An overabundance of amniotic fluid

Why are breech babies at increased risk for complications?
The fetus that is presenting as breech may have preexisting problems that contribute to the position, like an abnormally large head or a very short cord. If a small pelvis has contributed to the abnormal presentation, baby may undergo a long labor or need to be delivered with forceps or by cesarean section. Cesarean birth carries the risk of infection, hemorrhage, damage to internal organs, complications of anesthesia and even maternal and fetal death.

Can a breech baby be turned?
Most mothers whose babies are known to be breech at or near term are offered "version," a procedure where the doctor tries to turn the baby in the mother's uterus. Under ultrasound, two health care providers attempt to "somersault" baby into a more favorable position. The hope is that baby will maintain this position, but often babies turn back to their more comfortable presentation. Version carries risk of rare complications such as detachment of the placenta, rupture of the membranes and initiating labor. However, cesarean birth carries many additional risks to mother and baby, so the benefits of version may outweigh the risks. Some mothers are not good candidates for version. Version would not be attempted if baby is under five pounds or over eight and a half pounds; baby is coming feet or knees first; the fetal head is not flexed on the chest; or there are fetal, umbilical cord or placental problems. In addition, ample amniotic fluid needs to surround the baby.

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