Third Trimester

Q&A: Delivering A Breech Baby?

My baby is breech. What are my delivery options?

Doctors often recommend a cesarean birth, but vaginal birth may be an option if version is successful. When you’re close to your delivery date, you and your doctor will inevitably discuss the risks and benefits of your options.

Vaginal birth is pretty tough when baby is breech. (Ok, birth is always pretty touch. With a breech baby, it’s even tougher. Not to scare you.) Since baby’s head is the largest body part at birth, when it comes out first (when baby is in the normal position), it’s relatively easy to guide the rest of the body out after. With breech babies, the body comes out first, and may not stretch the cervix enough for the larger head to come out after. A prolapsed umbilical cord — when the cord goes through the birth canal before baby — is also more likely in a vaginal breech birth. A prolapsed cord can become pinched, which cuts off blood flow.

For these reasons, breech babies are usually delivered via cesarean section. The risks — rare and usually easy to treat — are similar to any major surgery and include infection, bleeding and complications from pain medication.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists