Your Pregnancy After 35 : Labor and Delivery (part 14) - Baby’s Birth Presentation

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- Welcome to your First Trimester
- Welcome to your Second Trimester
- Welcome to your Third Trimester

Baby’s Birth Presentation

Most babies enter the birth canal head first, which is the best position for labor and delivery. However, some babies enter the birth canal in other positions.

A breech presentation means the baby is not in a head-down position; its legs or buttocks come into the birth canal first. If your baby is breech when it’s time to deliver, your healthcare provider may try to turn the baby or you may need a Cesarean delivery.

One of the main causes of a breech presentation is prematurity of the baby. Near the end of the second trimester, the baby is commonly in the breech presentation. As you progress through the third trimester, the baby usually turns into the head-down presentation for birth.

For a long time, breech deliveries were performed vaginally. Then it was believed the safest delivery method was a Cesarean delivery; many healthcare providers still prefer to do a Cesarean for a breech presentation. However, some believe a woman can deliver a breech baby without difficulty if the situation is right.

Abnormal Birth Presentations

There are three different breech presentations and three other atypical presentations.

Frank breech—Occurs when lower legs are flexed at the hips and extended at the knees. Feet are up by the face or head.

Complete breech presentation—One or both knees are flexed (not extended).

Incomplete breech presentation—A foot or knee enters the birth canal ahead of the rest of the baby.

Face presentation—The baby’s head is hyperextended so the face enters the birth canal first.

Transverse lie—Baby is lying almost as if in a cradle in the pelvis. The head is on one side of the mother’s abdomen, and the bottom is on the other side.

Shoulder presentation—The baby’s shoulder enters the birth canal first.

Can My Baby Be Turned?

Some healthcare providers try to turn a baby in the breech position. If your baby is in a breech position, your physician may attempt to change its position by using external cephalic version (ECV).

With ECV, the healthcare provider places his or her hands on your abdomen. Using gentle movements, he or she manually tries to shift the baby into the head-down position. An ultrasound will usually be performed first to see the position of the baby and again during the procedure to guide the healthcare provider in changing baby’s position.

A physician usually uses this method before labor begins or in the early stages of labor. It is successful in about half of the cases in which it is used. Not every healthcare provider is trained in the procedure.

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