Printer Friendly VersionEmail A FriendAdd ThisIncrease Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Breech - series


Normal position of the baby

The term "fetal presentation" refers to the part of your baby's body that is closest to the birth canal. In most full-term pregnancies, the baby is positioned head down, or cephalic, in the uterus.

Normal position of the baby
Breech presentation

If your baby is breech, his bottom is the part of his body closest to the birth canal. No one is sure what causes a breech presentation, but it happens in 3% to 5% of single-baby deliveries.

As your pregnancy nears full term, your caregiver will check your baby's position during regular prenatal visits. Common methods for assessing fetal position include vaginal exams, ultrasound, feeling your abdomen, and listening to the baby's heartbeat with a Doppler device.

Breech presentation
Types of breech presentation

There are three types of breech presentation: complete, incomplete, and frank.

Complete breech is when both of the baby's knees are bent and his feet and bottom are closest to the birth canal.

Incomplete breech is when one of the baby's knees is bent and his foot and bottom are closest to the birth canal.

Frank breech is when the baby's legs are folded flat up against his head and his bottom is closest to the birth canal.

There is also footling breech where one or both feet are presenting.

Types of breech presentation
Complications of breech

A prolapsed umbilical cord is common in breech deliveries. This happens when part of the umbilical cord slips down through the cervix before the baby does. The cord is then compressed during contractions, which cuts down on blood flow to the baby. An emergency cesarean section is usually needed.

Complications of breech
Correcting breech

If you're near term and your baby is breech, your doctor may try to manually move him into a head-down position for delivery. There are two ways to do this: During an external version, the doctor moves your baby by pressing on the outside of your belly. During an internal version, the doctor inserts his hand through your vagina and cervix and moves the baby from the inside.

If your doctor can't manually reposition your baby, a cesarean section may be needed.

Correcting breech
Other presentations

If your baby is in a posterior position, his face is turned up toward your belly. This can make labor longer and more difficult, since the widest part of his head has to fit through the birth canal.

You may be able to help your baby rotate into a normal, face-down position by getting on all fours with your bottom in the air, which allows your uterus to drop forward. Your doctor may also try to reposition your baby by reaching in through your vagina and gently rotating his head with his hand or forceps. If none of these methods works, a cesarean section may be needed.

Other presentations
Other presentations

If your baby is transverse, he is lying horizontally in your uterus. Your doctor may try to manually turn him into a head-down position, but a cesarean section is usually needed.

Other presentations

Review Date: 9/2/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Home Page
Why Choose Us
Website Terms of Use

Visitor & Patient Info
Patient Portal
We Speak Your Language
Patient Privacy
Contact Us

Find a Physician
Medical Services
Maimonides In the News
Directions & Parking

Medical Education
Career Opportunities
Nurses & Physicians
Staff Intranet Access
Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000    |