Vaginal Breech Birth

You may have options about how you deliver your breech baby. This will depend on the specific way your baby is positioned, as well as on other birth factors. Your care provider will advise you on whether cesarean birth or vaginal birth is the best option for you.

Cesarean birth

Cesarean birth will be recommended if your baby is positioned so that his or her feet and legs would emerge first. Attempting a vaginal birth is not recommended in this case.

Not every hospital may offer the option of vaginal breech birth. Hospitals that do support vaginal breech birth may not always have an obstetrician available who feels qualified. If you arrive at the hospital in labour and the OB on call cannot support your request for a vaginal birth a cesarean section will likely be recommended as the safest option for your baby’s birth.

There may be other circumstances that would make a planned cesarean birth the safest option.

The risks and benefits of a planned cesarean birth for a breech baby are the same as with any planned cesarean birth.

Vaginal breech birth

A vaginal breech birth may be an option if your baby is positioned so that his or her buttocks would emerge first. Your care provider would consider this and other factors when making a recommendation.

Like all vaginal childbirth, delivering your breech baby vaginally offers benefits compared to cesarean birth. It also greatly increases your chances of having a vaginal birth in the future. Benefits include:

  • Less blood loss
  • Less risk of injury and infection
  • No complications associated with surgery
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • A faster, less painful post birth recovery
  • Less risk of breathing difficulties for your baby

Compared to normal vaginal birth, there are greater risks associated with vaginal breech birth. This includes:

  • An increased chance of problems with the umbilical cord.
  • A potentially more difficult birth that requires assistance from your care provider to actively help manoeuvre your baby’s head out of the pelvis. This may include the use of forceps.
  • If you attempt giving birth vaginally and are not successful, you will require a cesarean birth. Compared to a planned cesarean birth – where the decision to have a cesarean is made ahead of time and scheduled before your due date – an unplanned cesarean birth carries greater risks for mother and baby.