A breech birth happens when the baby is positioned in such a way that the feet or the buttocks are in a position to be delivered first. Most babies move toward a delivery position within the last few weeks prior to a delivery date and the head moves closer to the birth canal. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, however, and that results in the breech birth presentation.
Statistics About Breeched Babies
1. 1 out of every 25 full term births will be in the breech position.
2. There is a slightly elevated risk that a breech baby may have a birth defect and that the defect is what has caused the breech position to occur.
3. Breech babies are usually turned by the 37th week of pregnancy to avoid the breech position.
4. One method of chiropractic care, the Webster Breech Technique, has an 82% success rate in naturally turning babies who are in the breech position.
5. The amount of breech pregnancies that end up being in the Frank breech position: up to 70%.
6. A complete breech occurs in only 5-10% of total breech pregnancies.
7. The chances of a breech pregnancy occurring reduces with advancing gestational age: 22% of births at 28 weeks are breach, while 1-3% of full term births are breach.
8. Fetal abnormalities are observed in 17% of preterm breech deliveries.
9. Perinatal mortality is increased 2- to 4-fold with breech presentation no matter what the delivery mode happens to be.
10. The 3 most common reasons for fetal death are malformations, prematurity, and intrauterine demise.
11. Up to 4% of babies will begin labor in the breech position.
12. About 35% of breech babies in the United States end up being in an unfavorable position for a vaginal delivery.
13. If all breech deliveries were automatically converted to Caesarean sections, it is estimated that 630 fetal deaths would be prevented every year in the US.
14. The number of breech babies that are born because of an emergency C-section occurring while in the breech position: 1 in 200.
15. Moms who are diabetic are 3 times more likely to have a breech baby than the general population.
16. More than 60% of all women presenting in the unit for breech birth are first time mothers.
17. 93% of babies who are born in the breech position have no congenital abnormality of any kind.
18. Less than 10% of women who have a baby born in the breech position will have it happen a second time.
19. Smoking is associated with a 30% higher risk of a breech birth if it occurs during the pregnancy.
20. The risk of maternal death is 2.84 greater after a C-section if no emergency is present when compared to a natural birth.
21. There is a 6% chance for breech babies that the surgeon will cut the baby accidentally during the cesarean procedure.
22. The increase of risk in maternal mortality when a C-section is necessary to deliver a breech baby compared to a natural birth: up to 13 times.
23. 1 out of every 10 babies that is born from the breech position will require resuscitation in order to be viable.
There are three different breech positions. The first, a footling or incomplete breech, has one or both of the baby’s feet pointed downward so that the feet would deliver first. The second, which is called a Frank breech, occurs when the baby’s buttocks are aimed at the birth canal and its legs are sticking straight up near its head. The final breech, the complete breech, happens when the legs are folded at the knees and the feet are near the buttocks, which are pointing downward.
It isn’t fully understood why some babies try to be delivered in a breech position. What is known is that the statistics show that there are some women who tend to be more likely to have a baby that wants to be in a breech position. A history of premature delivery, pregnancies of multiples, and in instances where there is not enough or too much amniotic fluid, breeches may occur.
Diagnosing a breech baby usually occurs with a simple abdominal examination. The doctor will place their hands on the abdomen to locate the baby’s head, back, and buttocks. If it feels like the baby is in a breech position, then an ultrasound will be used to confirm the suspicion. X-rays may also be ordered to determine if a breech baby can be naturally delivered or if a Caesarean section would become necessary.
How to Deal with a Breeched Baby
The first thing to do if a doctor diagnoses a mother with a breech baby is to breathe. Many breeches can be fixed by using natural turning methods.
It is scary when a pregnancy does not go as expected and because breech births tend to happen more often to first-time mothers than any other demographic, the levels of fear are even higher. The statistics show, however, that breech babies are just as viable as babies that are ready to be born in a natural position. Some of the statistics might seem scary, especially with the chances of maternal death occurring during an emergency C-section, but the overall results are very, very low. In comparative stats, mothers are more likely to die from complications of general anesthesia during surgery than they are because of issues during childbirth.
Because the breech position isn’t diagnosed until late in the third trimester, it is important to make sure every final appointment with an OB-GYN or other doctor is met. This will help to confirm where the baby has positioned itself for birth and will let new mothers know for certain whether or not the baby has turned. For most mothers, the baby will have turned. For those breech babies, there’s still a pretty good chance that the baby will turn anyway before birth.
The one piece of advice with a breech baby is this: try not to have an at-home birth if the baby does not turn before the delivery date. There can be complications to the birth, from resuscitation to abnormality formation to cord entanglement, and immediate hospitalization would be required.