If your baby is breech, it means that she or he is lying with their bottom downwards. This makes delivery more complicated. Your obstetrician and midwife will discuss with you the best and safest way for your breech baby to be born. You will be advised to have your baby in hospital.
External cephalic version (ECV)
You'll usually be offered the option of an external cephalic version (ECV). This is when pressure is put on your tummy to try to turn the baby into a head-down (cephalic) position.
If an ECV doesn't work, you'll probably be offered a caesarean section. This is the safest delivery method for breech babies, but there's a slightly higher risk for you. If you plan a caesarean and then go into labour before the operation, your obstetrician should assess whether to proceed with the caesarean delivery. If the baby is close to being born, it may be safer for you to have a vaginal breech birth.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has more information on:
- turning a breech baby in the womb, including risks and monitoring your baby
- what to expect if your baby is still breech at the end of pregnancy, including having a vaginal breech delivery
The RCOG states that you may be advised against a vaginal breech delivery if:
- your baby's feet are below its bottom (known as a footling breech)
- your baby is large (over 3.8kg)
- your baby is small (less than 2kg)
- your baby is in a certain position, for example, if the neck is tilted back
- you've had a caesarean delivery before
- you have a narrow pelvis (there's less room for the baby to pass safely through the birth canal)
- you have a low-lying placenta
- you have pre-eclampsia