Breech Delivery

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What is A Breech Delivery?

When a baby is born, there are a number of things doctors traditionally expect, including plausible complications they are trained to handle. One example of a birth complication is a breech delivery.

When an infant is born breech, this means they are not in the proper position to be delivered safely through the birth canal. A baby born breech will have their buttocks or feet prepared to exit the birth canal, when in fact their head should come first, followed by the rest of the body to prevent injury.

There are three forms of breech position. The first is a complete breech, where a baby’s legs are crossed and their buttocks is facing the birth canal opening. The second form is known as a frank breech, where the baby’s legs are both extended while the buttocks faces the canal opening. Finally, we come to the incomplete breech, also known as the footling breech. This form is when only one leg extends while the other foot and/or buttocks strive to be delivered first.

Causes and Injury

Breech deliveries occur in about every three to four percent of births. While these odds are fairly low, there are certain circumstances which may increase the likelihood of breech birth. Such situations include premature birth, history of premature birth(s), multiples pregnancy, too much or too little amniotic fluid, placenta previa, small pelvis or uterus, and abnormal shape of or growths on the uterus.

Breech births are risky and require attentive care and focus to avoid causing injuries to the baby. A number of birth injuries associated with breech deliveries include the following:

  • Umbilical cord prolapse – The umbilical cord becomes compressed by the baby’s body during delivery, cutting off oxygen and blood supply which can potentially cause HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy).
  • Nuchal cord – The umbilical cord is found wrapped around the baby’s neck, which may cause suffocation.
  • Fetal distress – Stress related heart rate irregularities which can lead to HIE.
  • Nerve damage – The baby’s bodily positioning can sometimes cause nerve damage, as well as a doctor’s excessive handling while he or she is trying to remove the baby from the birth canal.
  • Head trauma – Anything from hemorrhages to brain damage or bruising may be caused during breech delivery as a result of the infant’s head getting caught in the birth canal.
  • Cervical spine injury – Possible when the infant has a hyperextended head.
  • Low APGAR scores – Can result due to injuries like trauma and nuchal cord.

Medical Responsibility

There are a few things a doctor should do when faced with a breech delivery. A doctor may decide to urge the fetus into the proper position for delivery by applying pressure to the outside of the mother’s uterus. However, if this proves unsuccessful the doctor should examine the situation to learn if a traditional vaginal delivery is still possible, otherwise a C-section should be performed.

Often C-sections are the chosen method of delivery for a breech baby, as they are typically the safest way to go. However, whether a breech delivery is achieved via vaginal delivery or not, it is the medical professionals’ responsibility to make sure it is safe for the child beforehand.

Improper monitoring, handling, or a decision to perform a delivery vaginally when it should have been done through a C-section may cause life altering damage to the child.

Contact Us

If you, or someone you know is dealing with the results of a doctor’s negligence, including a mistake is made during a breech delivery, trust Shea Law Group. We are practiced birth injury attorneys dedicated to getting you the justice and compensation you deserve. We never collect unless we win your case. Call us today at 1 (773) 365-0040 for a free initial consultation.

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