Breech Birth & How it Can Lead to Preventable Birth Injuries

One of the most common signs of a problem at birth is when the infant is facing the wrong direction during delivery. Known as a “breech birth,” this occurs when the child enters the birth canal feet first instead of head first. Most children will move into “delivery position” a few weeks prior to birth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this involves the baby’s head moving toward the birth canal. However, some children will not. The latest estimates suggest that about 3-4% of all labors involve a breech-with premature infants having a higher chance of breech presentation.

Different types of breech presentations exist.

1) Footling breech: This occurs when one or both of the child’s feet enter the birth canal and are positioned to be delivered first.

2) Complete breech: A complete breech arises when the child’s buttocks point downward with knees folded and feet neat the buttocks.

3) Frank breech: Similar to a complete breech with the buttocks closest to the birth canal but with legs pointed straight and feet near the head.

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers know that while these births present a range of unique complications and risks for the mother and child, there are protocols and tools available to ensure that the child is born healthy. Various tests can be performed to catch the breech birth, allowing the medical team time to make a decision to use different techniques to avoid a birth injury. Some of these tests are very simple, and include the doctor simply placing his or her hand on the mother’s abdomen close to the due date to get an idea of where the child’s head is located. In addition, special x-rays can be used to find about many different details about the child’s size and location in the mother’s body.

Most breech babies are born healthy, without mother or child suffering a birth injury. The two main ways to deal with a baby is breech presentation is either to work to reposition the child or deliver the baby via C-section. Of course, making the decision to do either of these things first requires the medical professional determining that the baby is in breech as early as possible.

Unfortunately, each Chicago birth injury attorney at our firm has worked with local families who have faced a range of injuries as a result of inadequate care received during breech situations. For example, umbilical cord prolapsed can occur in these cases. This arises when the umbilical cord is compressed as the infant moves through the birth canal. The cord provides crucial blood and oxygen supplies, and so when it is compressed the child may experience a range of brain problems or even death. If prolapse is suspected, the child must be delivered immediately, without any delay. In addition to prolapse, deliveries with awkward positions can lead the child’s head to be caught inside the mother. Excessive force is often used in these situations to get the child out. That force can lead to nerve or spinal cord damage. If your child has suffered any of these harms and you suspect that inadequate medical care might have played a role, you have the right to visit with a legal professional to learn about how the law might apply in your case.

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