Breech Birth - Complications associated with breech births
Breech position of the baby can cause complications during labour and delivery. Let us take a look at the complications associated with breech births
If the baby is in a breech position, it can lead to complications during the birth process. There is a greater likelihood of the umbilical cord prolapsing or falling through into the vagina. This can have serious consequences. The baby can die as a result of an interruption in its blood supply due to cord compression.
Compression of the cord by the baby's head as it passes through the birth canal can lead to a degree of brain injury, a need to resuscitate the baby and in the worst case, the death of the baby from asphyxiation.
Given the risks associated with a normal vaginal delivery for breech babies, for many years doctors preferred to play it safe and perform caesarean sections. However, in recent years, obstetricians have adopted the approach to first try out a vaginal delivery and only do a caesarean section if absolutely necessary. But the decision to attempt a vaginal delivery for a breech baby will depend on the facts of each particular case. It is not a policy that one can apply blindly to all breech births.
When is Vaginal Delivery Possible?
A successful vaginal delivery is more likely in the following cases:
a) If your doctor is comfortable and experienced with a vaginal delivery in the breech position;
b) If you have had a vaginal delivery before and the baby is not too big;
c) If your baby is not in the complete or incomplete breech position;
In the case of women who go into labour prematurely, doctors prefer to perform caesarean sections. Even though premature babies weigh less and have smaller bodies than full-term infants, their heads are quite large. When combined with a small body, a large head can make problems during vaginal delivery more likely.
Common Complications Due to Breech Births
Have a quick look at the common complications that are caused due to breech births.
Injury to the Foetus
Breach delivery can result in injury to the foetus. Buttocks of the baby are generally small compared to the head circumference. This makes it difficult to draw out the head easily. Whether the baby is positioned with head facing backward or forward, it becomes difficult to push the baby through the birth canal. There remains possibility of stretching the spine of the baby, resulting in further damage to nerves.
Even though the lower part of the baby is delivered, if the upper pat cannot be delivered quickly, there are chances of the umbilical cord getting wrapped around the baby. Further, there are also possibilities of the baby's body getting squeezed between the vaginal wall and the body. This condition known as prolapse as mentioned before cuts oxygen flow to the baby. If this condition is not corrected quickly it might result in permanent brain damage to the child.
Increased Risk of Caesarean or C-Section
Chances of caesarean or C-section increase especially when the baby is in the breech position or when the feet of the baby appear first. This is the condition when the feet and the buttock appear first. Risks associated with C-section include haemorrhage, scarring, infection and so on. Sometimes the bladder or bowel gets nicked in course of the surgery and this might result in infection. You need more time to heal and may even have to stay in the hospital for long.
According to research findings, rate of mortality is high in C-sections. A vaginal birth is always the natural and safest option. Also, when you opt for a C-section, your chances of complications increase for the subsequent pregnancies.
Signs of Breech Position
Here are some of the signs of breech position that you can be aware of;
If the doctors see the leg or the bottom first.
If you can feel the head of the baby in the upper part of the uterus.
In case you feel the head bony and hard and capable of moving from side-to-side. This condition when the bottom appears irregular and softer and is not as flexible as the head is called ballotable.
You may feel uncomfortable or find it hard under your rib cage.
If the membranes get ruptured and you can see the presence of meconium, which is the first bowel that a baby passes. You can easily see the meconium if the anus of the baby is very close to your vagina.
A breech position can be confirmed through an ultrasound under your doctor’s supervision.
Causes behind Breech Births
There are multiple factors that can be held responsible for breech delivery. Let us look at some of them.
When you are carrying more than a single baby.
If the amount of amniotic fluid is too high or too low. In both the cases, the mother and the child can be in danger.
In case of abnormality with the baby.
The abdominal and uterine muscles get stretched when you are carrying multiple babies.
In case of abnormalities of your uterus. Your uterus shape is actually influenced by the position of your baby.
If the position of the placenta is below the uterus.
If size of your pelvis is small and if you have suffered a trauma.
In case you had a C-section before.
Your doctor or midwife shall devise special techniques in such case. When you have a skilful doctor you can rely on him completely to assist you in such cases. So, do not worry and let the experts decide the best course of action for you as well as your baby.
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- The Indiaparenting Team