Breech Presentation and It’s Possible Implications

Doctor holding the foot of a baby delivered with a breech presentationBy the time the baby reaches 24-29 weeks in utero, the fetus begins to turn in the mother’s womb. At 34 weeks, the fetus is expected to have already turned its head down. By the time most fetuses reach childbirth, they are born head-first. However, this is not the case for about 3-4% of childbirths with a breech presentation.

In the breech presentation, the fetus has not yet turned on its head. And often, the child’s foot or buttocks will be the first to exit during birth. When the mother pushes for the child to be delivered normally, the baby will be more prone to develop complications.

The mother’s physician, typically an obstetrician-gynecologist, holds the responsibility to identify this abnormal fetal position and deliver the child. The physician may also recommend the mother to undergo a Caesarian section when it’s for the benefit of the child.

Types of Breech Presentation

Breech birth may be presented in various types, which include the following:

  • Complete Breech – The baby’s buttocks are positioned towards the birth canal with the knees flexed
  • Frank Breech – The baby’s buttocks are positioned towards the birth canal with the knees extended
  • Incomplete (Footling) Breech – The baby’s foot is positioned towards the birth canal

Causes of Breech Presentation

Several factors during pregnancy can result in a breech presentation during delivery. Among the causes are

  • Premature or history of premature delivery
  • Prior breech presentation during a previous pregnancy
  • Multiple pregnancies or twins, triplets, etc.
  • Too much (polyhydramnios) or too little (oligohydramnios) amniotic fluid
  • Anomalies in the uterus such as fibroids or an unusual shape
  • Placenta previa, or the placenta covering part or all of the cervix opening
  • Small uterus or pelvis
  • Fetal abnormalities

Diagnosis and Treatment of Breech Delivery

Ultrasound imaging during pregnancy and crowning during labor will reveal if a child is in a breech position. Initial treatment for breech presentation is more conservative, such as manual techniques from outside the mother’s womb to properly position the baby.

If the treatment fails, further assessment and management must be done. The baby may still be delivered via normal vaginal birth if the baby is already in full-term and shows no signs of distress. However, babies with breech presentations should be delivered through C-section to avoid birth injuries.

Birth Injuries Resulting From Breech Presentation

Normal delivery is still possible despite all the risks. If attempted, however, serious complications may arise. The baby may incur the following birth complications:

  • Nuchal Cord Asphyxia – This is a phenomenon when the mother’s umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck. As a result, there is a significant decrease in the child’s oxygen flow. He will have acute difficulty in breathing, which may later affect the oxygen supply in other organs, including the brain.
  • Umbilical Cord Prolapse – This is a phenomenon where the child’s movement impinges the umbilical canal, affecting the baby’s blood and oxygen supply to vital organs. When this happens, the baby must be delivered immediately, or else, the child may have a brain injury, or even die.
  • Fetal Distress – This phenomenon is an umbrella term for when a child experiences a rapid heart rate. In breech birth, the child faces extreme pressure and stress. This stress causes abnormal rhythm and pace of heartbeat that can be very detrimental to the child.
  • Neurologic Conditions – Of all the possible conditions that breech babies may have, neurologic conditions are the most debilitating and lasting. First, the baby may deal with the loss of oxygen or blood supply to the brain, resulting in hypoxic-ischemic encephalitis. It may then lead to more nerve damage, seizures, head trauma, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays.

Breech Presentation and Birth Injury Attorneys

Dealing with difficult childbirth is a stressful process on its own. We understand your grievances in facing more legal stress and problems along the way. That is why we offer our genuine legal assistance for free in Michigan.

We at The Clark Law Office are a team of expert birth injury attorneys dedicated to helping parents and their children deal with the current medical condition. With our free and helpful legal advice, you will know the necessary steps to take to help ease the burden of dealing with birth injuries.

Get legal assistance from our birth injury attorneys. Contact The Clark Law Office today.


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