What is a breech baby?
A breech baby is one that is born bottom first rather than the usual head first. Most breech babies will have straight legs going up past their ears (a “complete breech”), or bent legs in the usual foetal position (a “flexed breech”). Some will have one bent and one straight leg. Others have their legs curled up beneath them, so that their feet are born first, and even more rarely can have their legs in a kneeling position and be born knee first. In most cases there is no obvious reason why a baby is breech.
Typically 3-4% of babies will be breech at full-term. This is an awkward statistic – not frequent enough for midwives and doctors to see them regularly, and frequent enough that most people know someone who has had a breech baby. Even more awkwardly, approximately 1 in 4 of all babies will be breech at 30 weeks, and most of those will turn into a head-down position by themselves with no intervention. However, the details matter. First-time babies are less likely to turn, as are babies in women who have already had a previous breech.