Breech Birth and Spinal Injuries
When a woman is pregnant, it’s vital that her physicians be attentive and alert to potential problems, performing any and all necessary tests to ensure a safe delivery. One complication that requires astute monitoring and conscientious action is a breech position or presentation.
- What is a breech? Babies with a breech presentation have their feet or buttocks positioned to enter the birth canal before the head. There are different types of breech presentation. Frank breech means that the baby’s bottom is closest to the birth canal, and the legs are folded flat against the head. Complete breech is when the knees are bent and the baby’s feet and bottom are closest to the birth canal, and in an incomplete breech, only one of the legs is bent. In a footling breech presentation, one or both feet are presenting.
- Why does a breech birth occur? According to some research, the position of the placenta could cause the fetus to be more comfortable in the breech position. Other studies point to diminished muscle tone or abnormal motor function of the fetus, which means staying in the breech position because of an inability to move well inside the uterus.
- What are some complications that can occur during a breech birth? During delivery, there could be a prolapse of the umbilical cord, the head could become trapped, or there could be trauma to the baby because of the position of the arms or umbilical cord. There’s also a risk of spinal cord damage, particularly in a vaginal birth. Strain on the spinal cord can cause trauma, resulting in conditions like spinal cord atrophy or damage to the spinal axis.
- Can a baby in a breech position be born safely? Yes. It’s recommended that breech babies be delivered through scheduled Caesarean section, s that is the safest for mother and baby. Vaginal delivery can result in injury to mother and baby. Efforts should be made to turn the baby externally in a hospital, so the doctor can convert to a Caesarean section if there are complications.
- Does an injury to the baby during a breech birth always indicate medical error? No, the injury may be due to a congenital defect or to the position of the arms or umbilical cord. If this is the case, it should be discovered in the prenatal period; if it isn’t, the problem is probably perinatal, meaning around the time of birth. Negligence at any stage, whether during prenatal checkups or the delivery itself can also cause serious harm to the baby.