Babies move into the delivery position a few weeks before the birth. Usually the head of your baby is closer to the birth canal.
If this is not the case, your baby’s feet and/or buttocks will be in the delivery position. This position, known as breech presentation, happens in one out of 25 full-term pregnancies.
Generally, there are no symptoms to detect that the baby is in breech position, though some women feel the baby’s position by their kicks.
Most women, however, are unable to determine in which position their baby is in at any given moment.
Determining baby’s position:
Your doctor can outline the baby’s position by feeling it through the abdominal wall.
Another clue to determine your baby’s position is the position where the baby’s heartbeat is heard well. However, the pregnancy ultrasound examination is the best way to determine the baby’s position accurately.
Reasons for breech birth:
While there are no known genetic causes for breech presentation, certain conditions can increase the chances of presenting a baby in breech position:
- If the fetus is smaller than average size and is not cradled tightly in the uterus, then the baby moves more freely into breech position.
- Abnormal levels of amniotic fluid have a great impact on the position of your baby. Abnormally high or low levels of amniotic fluid can have contributing effects on the baby’s position.
- If there is more than one fetus, one can drive the other into breech position.
- If you have placenta previa and the placenta covers the cervical opening totally, there is an increased chance of breech delivery.
- An abnormally shaped uterus in some women, uterine fibroids and stretching of the uterus due to previous pregnancies increases the chances of having your baby rest in breech position.
- If you have history of premature delivery, there is a greater chance of breech births.
- Subsequent pregnancies can also result in breech presentation.
Dangers associated with breech birth:
The head is the biggest part of the fetus’s body. At the time of birth, if the head fits neatly in your pelvis, the body slips out very easily. If your baby is born with bottom first, its body may fit through your pelvis, but your baby’s head will become trapped at the chin level, which is especially a dangerous position.
If your baby’s head becomes trapped, there is a greater chance for injury. At this time, the umbilical cord stops pulsating after birth, which can lead to the termination of oxygen supply from you to your baby. If the head is still within your uterus, your baby will be unable to breathe alone. In this case, quick delivery or delivery by caesarean section is essential.
The breech position can be corrected by using a procedure called external cephalic version, in which the practitioner uses an ultrasound test to change the fetal position with his hands on your abdomen and pushing the baby.