The part of a baby's body that will deliver first through the mother's cervix determines his position in the womb, also called the presentation of the baby. The baby will either face the mother's back in an anterior position, ideal for delivery, or towards the mother's belly, in a posterior position. The angle of the baby's body versus the mother's body--referred to as the lie--can be transverse, at a 90 degree angle to the mother or longitudinal, parallel to the mother.
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In about 97 per cent of deliveries, the baby tucks his chin to his chest and presents head down in a cephalic presentation, identified by WebMD as the ideal position for a vaginal birth. Complications can arise in a cephalic presentation if the baby's head extends and the chin, face or forehead present instead of the top of his head, MedlinePlus points out.
Breech presentations, where the baby's buttocks or feet are the presenting pats, occur approximately 3 per cent of the time, often leading to a caesarean section. If discovered before labour begins, a doctor or midwife may attempt an external cephalic version, using her hand to turn the baby from the outside of the mother's abdomen. Some health care providers may recommend elevating the hips several times a day or seeking chiropractic care to turn the baby. Women can deliver breech babies vaginally, but multiple possible complications exist, the American Pregnancy Association points out.
Complete Breech Presentation
In a complete breech presentation, the buttocks of the baby present with the baby's knees bent. A vaginal delivery increases the risk of the umbilical cord preceding the baby out of the cervix and causing injury to the infant, states WebMD.
Frank Breech Presentation
In a frank breech presentation, the baby extends his legs, with his feet near his face and the buttocks as the presenting part. WebMD states that if the umbilical cord precedes the head through the cervix in a vaginal delivery, it presents a risk of injury to the baby.
Footling Breech Presentation
A baby's foot or feet present first in a footling breech presentation, increasing the risk of the umbilical cord entering the mouth of the womb and decreasing the baby's blood supply during a vaginal delivery, according to MedlinePlus.
Less than 1 per cent of the time, MedlinePlus reports, one of a transverse-lying baby's shoulders may be the presenting part of his body.
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