Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.

At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.

I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.

Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.

So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?

Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.

  • Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
  • Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
  • Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.

There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:

Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.

  • Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
  • Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
  • Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
  • When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
  • Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
  • Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
  • Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
  • Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one.  Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
  • If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!

A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.


  • Heather

    I am 29 weeks today and my daughter is frank breech at the moment..I am hoping that she will turn at the last minute, and it does make me a little nervous to think about delivering her that way, but I would rather try then have a c-section..thank you for this it was helpful!

  • Karrie

    I had a “gentle cesarean” 5 weeks ago because my second son was breech. It was a difficult thing to come to terms with (see blog!) because I KNEW he was just a variation of normal. However delivering vaginal breech babies has become a lost art, another disappointing thing about birthing in America. It’s one thing to know that the can be birthed vaginally, it’s another entirely to find an OB or midwife willing to do that (depending on where you live).
    While I would have preferred to deliver him vaginally, the gentle cesarean was the next best thing.

  • Sara

    I had my third baby via C-section because she was breech. I was hoping for a natural water birth so I was devastated when I found out. I really wanted to have the courage to deliver her naturally, but my fate depended on what doctor was on at the time I went into labour and if they were OK with letting me deliver naturally. Regardless, I was never going to be able to have the birth I was hoping for in hospital (and home births are not supported by the government in Australia so you have to hire a private midwife which costs big $$). The ironic thing is, although doctors might say that C-sections are less of a risk for breech presentation, my daughter ended up with a graze on her back from the incision! Also, I was led to believe that a natural deliver of a breech baby may result in hip problems, but it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the way the baby is delivered. It’s the position they maintain in the womb as a breech baby that can cause problems. I agree with Karrie that the main issue is that breech delivery is becoming a lost art because it is not practiced enough.

  • Shannon

    I just found out my little peanut (37 weeks), is breech just like my first. I asked my doctor why my kids insist on being the wrong way, and she said it may have something to do with the shape of my pelvis. I was completely caught off guard. My husband and I took Bradley classes and were planning on trying for a natural VBAC. I was so distraught after my firstborns birth ending in an emergency c-section, and was elated to try to this the “way it was meant to be”. I am now scheduled for a c-section in 2 weeks. I am disappointed, but not even sure if I have the strength and courage to try it naturally now, even if she does flip (am trying Webster technique today). I do not want to go through the horror of getting to 9cm again and having to be rushed down for a c-section because I can’t push her out. I am hoping I can come to peace with everything before surgery, so I can enjoy my precious baby and move forward. It makes me nervous not knowing what is going on in her world, and can only hope and pray she is not tangled up in there and is comfortable. My firstborn came out doing the splits, she was obviously breech for a long time (and how it was never caught by my OB is beyond me). I am concerned that this one is in the same situation and already being in there 2 weeks longer is going to have severe hip dysplasia. I have 2 more weeks to wait.

  • Kathy

    My first child was a frank breech. they attempted an ecv 10 days prior to due date (dumb idea since I was somewhat low on amniotic fluid) when it was unsuccessful, the newbie doc suggested an immediate c-sec. I said hey didn’t come here today to have a baby. so I waited until my due date, found a new more experienced doc; oh yea btw we also moved 1 1/2 hrs away 1 mo before my due date. I went into labor naturally,didn’t go to the hospital until I was 6cm dilated and fully effaced, 2hrs and 45 min later (45 min of pushing) out came my beautiful and stubborn (she is to this day) baby girl 7# 1oz…did have an episiotomy, no epidural, I did request a local numbing agent when the doc started stitching me up w/o anything (I guess she really thought I was serious about this whole natural thing.)

  • Daniella

    I was diagnosed at 28 weeks with Eclampsia. At 36 weeks I was starting induction, and when I finally 3cm my son Cooper decided he was going to flip and go breech. At my ultrasound he showed to be complete breech! We had to wait another week, and on the Thursday my doctor was going to try and turn him he flipped on his own! I was walking from one room to the other (which is probably at the most 8 ft.) and I didn’t feel a thing! I had him naturally that day 8 hours later!

  • Kathleen Neely

    Mama’s dont feel bad about the C sections, I was camping with my youngest son in the Midwest, Near Buffalo Bills Ranch, We went for breakfast at a local restaurant and sat down next to a Cowboy Veterinarian, who informed us that the night before ( while we were Freezing in our tent) He had performed a C section on a Cow. We are not alone ladies LOL

  • Tanya Curtis

    I couldn’t find a mid-wife, doctor, doula, anyone who would deliver my breech v bac baby. Is there such a person. I am told that after 2 breech births, not in succession, I would more than likely have another breech baby and even if it were head down I wouldn’t be able to have a v-bac. Is this true?

  • katrina

    Great article! My 2nd baby turned breech towards the end of my pregnancy which gave me a huge scare… (I was determined to go natural) The good news is I managed to get her to turn around (and had a fast natural drug free birth) through the power of visualisation/ meditation, tuning in and talking to my baby daily. I share my story (as well as many other inspiring birth stories!) in my new book A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth.

  • Lisa

    Many great and moving stories here. One thing I’d like to say is that there is so much pressure on women to have the “perfect” birth. And sometimes there is the idea that having a c-section, or epidural makes the woman a failure. The birth of your baby is only the beginning. Motherhood is not all about the birth. It’s what comes after that that’s most important.

  • mallie shirk

    Great article! I just gave birth to twin girls at home in the water and both breech. If you have the right people with you it can be done safely. I had two previous natural births to bigger babies so we were confodent my body knew what to do and it did! My labor was a little over 2 hrs. Long, girls were 11 minutes apart. I didn’t even tear! Don’t let Breech scare you…:)

  • Angela

    I’m almost 39wks and at my apt. on Mon. found out my baby is breech. This is the second time the baby has flipped. I need some support because I am crushed and beside myself. I was really hoping for an unmedicated natural delivery this time w/#2 and now it’s looking more & more like a c-section will happen. I’ve tried chiroractic adjustments twice now (had one yesterday after finding out the baby was breech again & earlier in my pregnancy), warm compress on my pelvic area & cold up by my ribs, and some of the techniques (breech tilt, forward-leaning inversion) from Not sure if there is anything else I can do. After doing all this repeatedly, I think she’s still breech. I’m really upset about this news.

    I went through with the ECV procedure Wednesday morning at the hospital, but baby would turn about half-way and then turn back-stubborn. As of now, baby is still in the breech position. I have since had another chiropractor appointment and have two additional ones scheduled for Friday and Monday (using the Webster technique)before my obgyn appointment on Tuesday. I have also went swimming and did handstands in the water, but no success. I’m going to look into calling a local, certified acupuncturist that practices moxibustion to see if that will help baby flip into position again.

    Depending on baby’s position Tuesday will determine whether or not a c-section will be planned for later next week. I’m not giving up hope. I’m going to continue doing the breech tilt position and the forward-leaning inversion poses that I’ve read about and been doing from and hope baby turns on it own and I go into labor naturally. I question whether there was something I could have done differently this time around since I didn’t have this issue with #1.

  • Shannon Reyes

    I hate to say it, but I was one of those uneducated mothers and I think overall, I was perhaps very ignorant about all these small details. Never once did the possibility of a breech birth occur to me! I am glad to say that I had a nice and easy birth (I was induced at 41.5 weeks because the practice/hospital I used had a practice of not scheduling any deliveries around the Christmas holidays; I was in labor for 29 hours before my daughter arrived–sheesh!) I was only 23 and had NO idea of all the problems that could have gone on!

    It’s really nice to read about other birth experiences. I did some further research on things that a woman could do to help turn her baby from the breech position, and looking back, it’s possible that my daughter could have been breech but because unconsciously I already was doing some of the suggestions that others have made to help (Yoga, inversion, daily walking, etc). I was taking a full load of college classes at the time and one of the classes I had was speed walking. Ha! At the beginning of the semester, I started out walking very fast and with a lot of energy, and by the end, when I was two weeks away from my due date, I was waddling like a penguin! I’m sure that the fast-pace walking was good, as well as on some of the days, my instructor allowed me to take it easy and so I did a lot of yoga. Some of the stretches that I did were suggested in helping to balance the uterus out so help make room for the baby’s head. How ironic that I was already doing these!

    Thank you for writing this article, because it’s sure educating me now so that when we have our next one, I will know more! 🙂

  • Ashley

    My son was breach. I’d planned a home water birth but things went south quickly because he’d turned between appointments and my head midwife was gone for the first time in 8 years. Had he been head down, he still would have been born at home but my secondary midwife wasn’t licensed to do specialized births. I was rushed to the hospital where the doctor really tried to push a C-section but I knew in my heart my son was fine. He was born breach, I did it with out drugs because I am strong. If I had felt the need, I would have had a csection but I knew it wasn’t needed. My new OB said that we would more closely monitor me this time around and turn baby before it came to that point.

  • Judy Arnel

    my son was breach all the way through, when I was in bed at 5 months he sat straight up with his head poking out my stomach… I said this kid is a ceasar waiting to happen, and laughed… then he went back downstill breach. After 12 hours of labour they exrayed me – the mid wife said please have this baby before I leave tonight, I have never seen a baby born in this position. He got in the beanbag and showed the Frank position, with both arms up over his head as well. Poor baby was probably trying to protect his head from the contractions. After ANOTHER 12 hours they gave me a ceasar. I really thought I was going to die and/or my baby would. He has autism(Aspurgers) and problems feeling his hands and feet, balance and other things too.. I wish I had demanded they ceasar me earlier…. just maybe he would not have some of his problems if I had. The night midwife even threw me out of the labour ward and left me alone all night, cause I was not really in labour and they are going to ceasar you in the morning. Lazy bitch just wanted one less person to keep an eye on. She put me back in the ward and because she did my husband was not even allowed to sit with me. WORST 10 hours in my life. to that point. Child 1 – easy, slept through the birth. #2 – cervical incompetence, High forceps prem delivery, #3 – ceasar #4 – ruptured ectopic with 10 hours sergery to save my life. #5 the cord was around her neck from when she spun around when they put electrode sensors on her scalp to keep an eye on her stress levels…. Having children is a wonder, but not always wonderfull. Wouldn’t trade any of them.

  • Paula Palmer

    My third baby was my first homebirth, a 41-weeker, and a surprise frank breech one at that. I love that you mention trusting your body. That is exactly what happens. You have faith. Thanks for this! 🙂

  • sharla

    Thank you. I am right at 38 weeks and just found out baby is in breeched position. My midwives would like to have an inversion later this week, but I feel I want to wait. Trusting body and baby at this point. 🙂

  • megan

    My 4th child was a surprise breech. I am very glad we did not know ahead of time bc I’m sure they would have forced a c-section. My first 3 births were unmedicated and with midwives. With this baby we had moved and the the closest midwife was 5 hours away so I had no option but to go with a doctor. I remember telling my husband it felt like a head was in my ribs when I was used to feeling feet. My doctor, however, reassured me the baby was head down just by feeling my belly. Then when I was in labor he started to “crown” and the nurse told me she did not see a head but a scrotum. She immediately called in the Dr and I was panicking and quickly asked if I would have to have a c-section. She told me my baby was coming now and there wasn’t time. So I got to deliver him unmedicated and vaginally. I am now pregnant with number 5 and have been having some of the same feelings, knot in my ribs and lots of kicking in my bottom, that I had with my last baby. I’m with a midwife but they won’t deliver a known breech so I’m not going to voice my concerns as I know I can deliver a breech just fine. And I am confident my midwives can handle a surprise breech if need be.

  • Holly

    I’m 36 weeks now and my baby has been breech the entire time thus far. I have to admit I’m worried and scared. My husband is military and often gone even for short periods of time like a couple 2-3 days & then back home again. I have three children already and family close for support or help with the other three children. I’m very anxious about a breech baby because I’ve been high risk the entire time after having lost 4 babies already-2 early in pregnancy, 1 halfway through, and another one at 8.5 months while delivering that one’s twin at 35.5 weeks (my first pregnancy). They plan to try to turn the baby this week sometime. I’m worried because my fluid levels are low and have been all along but also because as much as I would love to continue to carry and let things happen naturally, my baby is falling off the growth charts. My placenta is as big as the baby which isn’t normal and she’s very small. I have RA so I’m quite concerned about having a breech baby and the possible damage to my hips. I need to be able to take care of all my children. I have so many concerns and I have prayed. I feel like my concerns aren’t allowing my heart hear God.

  • Annie Paquet

    I am desesperate. 🙁 I had my first 2 kids by cesarean because they were both breech… My second had his cord around his neck, and was presenting feet first. I really want to experience a natural birth. Both times labor started on it’s own so at least that’s one thing… C-sections have been forced on me, and I do not want a 3rd one to happen again! Is there still hope for a vbac? Does this mean my 3rd one will be breech as well?

    • Kate D

      I am sure you already know that after 2 c/s most providers will recommend a repeat c/s because you are at an increased risk of rupturing your uterus at your old incision site (this is a dangerous and scary complication that can hurt you or your baby if it goes unnoticed for any length of time). Good luck!

  • Holly C

    FANTASTIC article!!!! Thank you so much!!! Do you happen to have any articles to reference, or personal thoughts on WHY babies turn breech (i.e. baby knows what’s best)? Id love to read into this more. Still coping with my traumatic homebirth turned cesarean 🙁

  • erika boland

    Annie of course there is till hope of a VBAC you just have to fight for it! You may have to change doctors. You may have to change hospitals! You must find the right support people. Trust yourself!

  • Jamie

    Prior to my natural, vaginal breech birth of my 8 lb baby, I was the biggest advocate of breech birth and natural methods. I had a textbook breech birth, it was beautiful and exactly what I wanted. Now 12 weeks out, my athletic, marathon running body has suffered the consequences. I thought the worst that would happen was that I would tear. I was prepared to deal with my second degree tear, but I was not prepared to deal with grade 3 bladder prolapse. My whole pelvic area was stretched beyond its limits and now my organs are falling down because the ligaments and fascia were so weakened that they cannot support them. I am now looking at having surgery at some point to correct this. In retrospect, I wish I had listened to so many others that told me to have a ceasearean. Sometimes things may not be what you want to hear, but may be better for you in the long run.

  • Shell

    My first baby was born complete breech, I had been induced and it wasn’t until I told the midwife I needed some pain relief that they checked me and told me I was breech,a complete surprise to everyone! They gave me gas and air and suggested I have a c section but at that point I felt the need to push. All went well and the labour was only half an hour, just do as you would in any other situation try to breathe through it. I now have a happy healthy little girl x

  • Hannah

    I’m six months with my first. I’m planning a home birth and I know everything doesn’t always go according to plan. If my baby was breech I would have a hard time deciding because it sounds like breech can go well but it can also not go well at all. It’s a challenge because the same thing is truth for a normal presenting baby. I guess the most important thing is to trust. Don’t feel bad for having a C section if you and your baby are safe that is the biggest miracle

  • banke

    my their born was frank breech,and I deliver her through naturally through viginal, my fourth was frank breech again,which I delivered him through my viginal but I lost the baby on 27th march am afraid of getting pregnant again.

  • Anne

    At 37 weeks my OB found that my daughter was breech.
    He immediately suggested to try for an external cephalic version as he was confident in its success.
    I was more than nervous going into the procedure but I had decided to give it a try as the only delivery option given would have been a c-section.
    My OB and the attending nurse were wonderful and very knowledgeable. The procedure itself was pain free and took maybe 5 minutes (all in all I spent about 2 hours in the hospital as they monitored me before and after just to be sure that the baby was doing ok).
    My daughter did not turn back and she was born vaginally at 38+3 weeks.

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