What Causes a Breech Presentation?

Breech presentation is when the baby is delivered feet (or buttocks) first. This occurs in about one in 25 full-term births when the baby fails to move into proper headfirst position. Between the 32nd and the 37th week of pregnancy is usually the best time to try to turn the baby to be head first. There are multiple methods, with varying success rates. The doctor will offer the best options on a case-by-case basis. While most breech babies are born healthy, this positioning does make for a more complicated delivery. The doctor will normally determine whether a vaginal delivery can be attempted when labour begins. However, most recommend Caesarean delivery for most breech presentations. The causes of breech presentation are not fully known but there are several conditions that increase the possibility of having a breech presentation.

Pre-term Labor

If labour begins while the baby is still small enough to move freely, it can turn itself to go feet first. This breech presentation normally happens if labour happens at seven or eight months because the foetus is still small enough to move around in the womb. Alternatively, babies that are smaller than average size may not be cradled snugly in the uterus. This condition enables them to move freely and turn themselves feet first.

Uterine Malformations

Sometimes, it is not the baby that causes the breech presentation. Mothers that have an unusually-shaped uterus, have a partition in their uterus or a uterus has two incomplete divisions (bicornuate), may cause breech presentations. Those with fibroids in their uterus are also predisposed to having breech babies. These conditions cause breech presentations because there isn't enough room for them to turn to be head first. In essence, they are stuck in the feet first position.

Problems with the Placenta

Once in a while, the placenta implants over the cervical opening rather than the side of the uterus. This is called placenta previa. One of the symptoms of placenta previa is breech presentation, according to StorkNet. Of all breech presentations, 24 per cent are associated as a symptom of placenta previa.


Polyhydramnios is the condition when there's too much amniotic fluid in the uterus. This gives the baby the ability to move more than usual, thus increasing the likelihood of a breech presentation.

Multiple Fetuses

Breech presentations can happen when there's not enough room in the uterus. This is normally due to having multiple gestations. Because the uterus is filled to capacity, there isn't enough room for the foetuses within to move into proper position.

Subsequent Pregnancies

The more pregnancies a woman has, the higher the chances of having breech presentation during delivery. This is because previous pregnancies would have stretched the woman's uterus, according to The baby therefore has more room to move around and turn itself to be feet first.

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About the Author

Jorina Fontelera has been writing about business since 2003, covering the printing and manufacturing sectors, as well as the global accounting and financial industries. She has contributed to "USA Today," "Milwaukee Business Journal" and several trade publications, also writing about parenting, animals, food and entertainment. Fontelera holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Marquette University.