If your baby is breech, it means that they are lying with their bottom downwards. This makes your care more complicated. Your obstetrician and midwife will discuss with you the best and safest form of care. You will be advised to have your baby in hospital.

External cephalic version (ECV)

You will usually be offered the option of an external cephalic version (ECV). This is when an obstetrician tries to turn the baby into a head-down (cephalic) position by applying pressure on your abdomen (tummy). In the absence of other problems, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recommends ECV. It is a safe procedure and although only around 50% of babies can be turned, they usually stay head-down, allowing you to plan a normal birth. ECV can be a little uncomfortable.

If an ECV doesn't work, you'll need to discuss options with your midwife and obstetrician. You will 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 will 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 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 (more than 3.8kg or 8.4lb)
  • your baby is small (less than 2kg or 4.4lb)
  • your baby is in a certain position, for example, if their 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