If a baby is breech—positioned to exit the birth canal feet or buttocks first—a doctor may have to change his delivery method. Although only 3 – 4 percent of full-term births involve a breech position, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), mistakes or unpreparedness in delivery of a breech baby can lead to brain trauma, bleeding, asphyxia, lifelong disability, and even death.
Types of Breech Positions
As a pregnancy nears its end, a baby naturally shifts to accommodate for a safe vaginal birth—a position in which a baby would exit the birth canal head first. However, when a baby positions itself to exit buttocks or feet first, this is when a breech presentation occurs. Usually, a doctor will suggest a cesarean section (C-section) in the event of a breech baby. There are three types of breech positions:
- Frank breech: The most common type of breech position is a frank breech that occurs when a baby pikes and prepares to exit the birth canal buttocks first.
- Complete breech: When the baby’s body contorts into a cannonball shape—hinged both at the knees and the hips into a tuck—and prepares to exit buttocks first, a complete breech occurs.
- Footling (incomplete) breech: As the name suggests, a footling breech happens when one foot or both feet will exit first. This can often mean a baby’s hips enter into a problematic position, as well.
Why Do Breech Positions Occur?
Ultrasound technology helps the medical staff determine the breech position, and then the doctor will inform the parents-to-be about alternative measures. However, medical professionals can’t usually explain why breech positions occur. Risk factors include previous pregnancies, a small pelvis, and a history of premature delivery, and breech deliveries can lead to serious complications, including:
- Fetal distress. This can occur when there are issues with the umbilical cord. Complications can include the cord becoming compressed or wrapping around the child’s neck.
- Nerve damage. This can occur from excessive compression during attempts to dislodge the baby from the mother’s birth canal.
- Head and spine injury. This can occur when the baby’s head becomes stuck in a small birth canal, sometimes leading to bleeding and permanent disability.
- Low APGAR scoring. This can indicate a traumatic birth.
How an Attorney Can Help Your Family
If your baby suffered a traumatic birth injury because a doctor mishandled a breech position, the attorneys at the Holton Law Firm can help. To speak with an experienced attorney about your case, fill out the online contact form on our website.