Even though advancements in science and medicine have helped reduce pregnancy and birth complications, potential risks during birth are still evident.
The breech birth presentation is one such complication that doctors and mothers around the world continue to experience. This is when the baby during birth enters the birth canal in a position that is far from normal-the feet or buttocks come out first instead of the head first as is what is considered normal.
But what is normal?
To begin with, the birth canal is shaped so that the baby can safely come out with the head first then the rest of the body follows. But when a baby is breech, then delivery becomes complicated and risky for both mother and child.
Causes of breech presentation during birth
Several factors can contribute the baby getting breech at the time of delivery. These factors could be;
- When there are multiple features in the womb. This is in case of twins, triplets, quadruplets and so on.
- Polyhydramnios; this is when there is an excessive amount of amniotic fluid in the womb.
- Fetal deformities. These are malformations that affect the normal shape of the fetus. Such deformities include an unusually large head, filled with fluids (hydrocephaly), the fetus missing much of the brain and scalp (anencephaly), among other birth deformities
- Abnormalities that affect the uterine shape
- Complications due to previously conducted Cesarean births
Types of breech baby presentations
Commonly, there are four types of breech births. The first form is the Frank breech where the baby’s posteriors come out first with the legs flexed and feet bent up towards the head. Frank breech makes up for almost 70% of breech births experienced annually across the globe.
The second type of breech birth is the complete breech. A breech is said to be complete when the baby appears to be sitting across the birth canal with the buttocks pointing through the canal and their feet folded at the knee. The footling breech form is another type of birth breech baby complication. Although rare, this kind of breech occurs when the baby’s one or both feet come out first.
The last type of breech position which is very rare is the kneeling breech. Here, the baby appears to be in a kneeling position in the birth canal, with their legs bent at the knees.
Breech baby delivery options
Take note that although breech births can be complicated, they are not entirely impossible to deliver. And because it is quite apparent that a baby can’t be delivered in a breech position, one way to ensure safe delivery is by performing a C-section. It is also possible to deliver breech baby naturally, but for this, your medical practitioner must apply extraordinary skills and take precautionary measures to ensure safe delivery.
The delivery doctor and nurse may try to correct the baby’s position first usually through the vaginal opening or external cephalic version. The latter is a technique used by doctors to normalize the baby’s position manually. It is however considered to be very risky, and thus it is recommended that the baby’s vital signs be monitored closely during this procedure. This recommendation when trying out any techniques to repositions a breech baby.
Breech baby risks
One of the most experienced breech birth risks is the cord prolapse. This when the baby’s body and the umbilical cord come out first during delivery and then the blood and oxygen supplies are cut off. A cord prolapse happens mostly when the child’s buttocks or feet exert pressure on the umbilical cord (the main supply of blood, and oxygen to the fetus).
In other cases, a breech baby birth may result in an entrapment which is when the baby’s body is delivered, but their head gets trapped at the neck. In this situation, if the medical practitioners do not act with speed, serious injuries or even fatality can occur.
Severe labor pains are also a common danger associated with breech births. Although it is a hard thing to ask, just try and be on the alert for not distress the baby during a breech birth. If you find that the pain is unbearable or if you experience severe breech baby painful movements, let your doctor know immediately.
Natural delivery of breech babies is possible but not advisable, but when this is insisted upon and not performed skillfully and carefully, temporary and sometimes permanent birth defects such as downs syndrome, autism, chromosomal disorders, and spinal cord defects may be experienced.
What is most important during a breech-presentation birth is to ensure that an open line of communication is maintained between the doctor and mother. This is to prevent a breech baby misdiagnosis that can lead to birth injuries for both mother and child.
To be safe, ensure that you read about breech births and understand its possible scenarios. This knowledge will help you to be better prepared for any eventuality and also know how to deal with the situation if it arises.