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Breech position and delivery

vertical; head; down; birth; canal; breech; ultrasound; caesarean; section;

What is a breech position?

By around the eighth month most babies will be in a vertical, head down position in the birth canal.

Some babies, however, settle in a breech position.

  • A breech position is when the baby presents with bottom, feet or knees first.
  • Often babies are in the breech position for much of pregnancy but then turn by themselves to the normal position (head down) by late pregnancy.
  • About 3%-4% of babies remain in a breech position in late pregnancy.

Your doctor or midwife may be able to tell the position of your baby by feeling it through the wall of your abdomen or by checking your baby's heartbeat to see where it is heard best. The only way to really be sure is to have an ultrasound.

What happens if my baby is in the breech position?

When you have reached about 37 weeks of pregnancy your doctor may be able to turn your baby. This doesn't always work and sometimes even if the baby does rotate, it will go back into the breech position.

Your doctor will discuss the type of delivery with you. A normal vaginal birth may be attempted - however a Caesarean section is the most common way to deliver a baby lying in a breech position.

More information

Pregnancy, birth and baby Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national Australian Government service providing support and information for expecting parents and parents of children, from birth to 5 years of age.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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