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Third Trimester

Q&A: Will My Baby Be Breech?

I'm nearing my due date, and my OB has mentioned the possibility of my baby being breech. What exactly does this mean, and why does it happen?

As your due date approaches (usually by about 36 weeks), baby should naturally shift into ahead-down position in your uterus. If yours is one of the three to four percent of full-term pregnancies where this doesn’t occur, baby is in "breech presentation." This means baby is positioned right-side up (in terms of giving birth, that’s upside down!), with buttocks and/or feet positioned to come out first.

Breech babies are either in the frank position (buttocks pointed toward uterine opening with legs straight and feet near head), the footling position (one or both feet pointing down), or the complete breech position (settled cross-legged, with buttocks near the uterine opening).

There’s a few ways your OB can determine whether your baby is breech. One option is a physical exam. By feeling your abdomen, your doctor should be able to determine the location of baby’s head, back and buttocks. An ultrasound also may be used to confirm baby’s position. But, since baby can turn right up until delivery, your doc may not know for sure until labor begins.

Why are some babies breech? Consider your baby, almost the size of a newborn. Now consider the size of your uterus.A little cramped, no? That’s the basic explanation — baby gets stuck. Some other factors that contribute to breech presentation:

[   ] Too much or too little amniotic fluid

[   ] Second (or further subsequent) pregnancy

[   ] Multiples

[   ] Abnormally shaped uterus and/or uterine growths (e.g. fibroids)

[   ] Placentaprevia (placenta covers some or all of the uterus’ opening)

[   ] Preterm birth

[   ] Birth defects

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists