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Understanding breech presentations

As expecting couples in Kew Gardens get closer to their delivery dates, the anxiety they may have felt about the progression of their pregnancies may begin to abate. However, last minute complications can still arise that could affect both mothers and their babies. One of the more common is to have a baby settle into a breech position while in the womb. According to the website AmericanPreganancy.org, breech presentations occur in roughly one out of every 25 births.

What is a breech presentation? Simply put, it occurs when a baby’s buttocks and/or feet are positioned over the birth canal prior to delivery rather than his or her head. There are three types of breech presentations:

  •          Frank breech: The baby’s buttocks are over the birth canal with his or her legs sticking straight up (similar to a jackknife position).
  •          Footling breech: One or both of the baby’s legs and feet are aimed at the birth canal.
  •          Complete breech: The baby’s buttocks are over the birth canal with his or her legs in a folded position.

Regardless of the type of breech position a baby is in, such a complication can contribute to a delayed delivery due to the baby becoming stuck in the birth canal. Delays can results in incidents of hypoxia, where oxygen flow is restricted to the baby. This can result in tissue and/or brain damage.

A breech presentation can appear on a pre-delivery ultrasound. If this occurs, a doctor can recommend either delivering the baby via an elective C-section or attempting to push it into the correct delivery position. What a doctor recommends might be swayed by his or her own opinion or bias. However, study information shared by Healthline shows that breech babies delivered via C-section faced a significantly lower risk of experiencing complications. 

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