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Breech baby at the end of pregnancy

Babies often twist and turn during pregnancy. The majority of babies will have moved into the head-down (also known as head-first) position by the time labour begins. This may not always happen as your baby could be: 

  • Bottom first or feet first (breech position)
  • Lying sideways (transverse position)

Breech is very common during early pregnancy. By around 36 to 37 weeks of pregnancy, most babies will turn into the head down first position. 

The reasons behind baby breech

The following factors may be associated with baby breech: 

  • This is your first pregnancy
  • Your placenta is in a low lying position
  • You have too much or too little fluid (amniotic fluid) around your baby
  • You are having more than one baby

What happens if your baby is breech towards the end of the pregnancy

If your baby is breech at 36 weeks of pregnancy, your healthcare professional will discuss your options with you. This may include: 

  • Trying to turn your baby in the uterus into a head first position by external cephalic version (ECV)
  • A planned caesarean section
  • A planned vaginal breech birth

Turning a breech baby by external cephalic version (ECV) 

Your healthcare professional will explain, discuss and answer any questions about the ECV procedure. This is what to expect if you are recommended this procedure: 

  • If you need the ECV procedure, you will have an ultrasound to confirm your baby is still breech.
  • You will be given medication to relax your uterus. The medication is given by injection before ECV and is safe for both you and your baby.
  • ECV can be uncomfortable and occasionally painful. Your healthcare professional will stop if your experiencing pain. The procedure usually lasts for a couple of minutes.
  • You are more likely to have a vaginal birth if your ECV is successful and your baby is turned into the head-first position. 
  • There does not appear to be an increased risk to your baby from having an ECV. After the procedure has been performed you will normally be able to go home on the same day. 

Your chances of needing an emergency caesarean section, forceps or vacuum (suction cup) birth is slightly higher than if your baby had always been in a head-down position.