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If your baby is breech it means their bottom or feet are facing downwards in your uterus (womb) instead of the usual head-down (also known as head-first) position.

Breech presentation is very common in the early stages of pregnancy (first and second trimesters). Most babies turn to the head-down position as the pregnancy progresses.

After around 37 weeks most babies are in the head first position ready for birth.

About 3% of babies (3 in 100) remain in the breech position after 37 weeks. This may make the birth more challenging.

What causes a baby to be in the breech position?

Most of the time it is simply because the baby has not turned and remains in the breech position.

Sometimes a baby can be breech if:

  • the placenta is in an unusual position
  • there is a multiple pregnancy (like twins or triplets)
  • there is too little or too much fluid in the womb

Most breech babies are born with no health problems. Occasionally a breech presentation can be a sign of a health problem.

Your baby will have a full newborn clinical examination at birth like all babies. They may need some extra tests of their hips.

Ultrasound scan of hips

If your baby is still breech after 36 weeks, he or she may need an ultrasound scan of their hips. Ask your paediatrician or GP about this.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

page last reviewed: 14/11/2018
next review due: 14/11/2021