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Breech Position and Breech Birth - Exams and Tests

You are most likely to discover that your fetus is in the breech position during a routine prenatal exam late in your pregnancy.

  • Your doctor will gently press on various areas of your abdomen. Often a fetus's position can be determined by noticing that the head (which is relatively hard) is above the buttocks (which are relatively soft), or that the heart is higher up than normal.
  • Also, when your doctor checks your cervix, he or she may learn that your baby is breech. This is done by placing gloved fingers into the vagina and feeling the cervix. During this exam, the round, smooth feel of the fetal head pressing on the cervix can often be distinguished from the soft, irregular feel of a breech presentation.

See pictures of different breech positions .

If the exam suggests that your fetus is in the breech position, a fetal ultrasound test will be done to confirm the diagnosis.

If your doctor tries to move the fetus into a head-down position (external cephalic version):

  • Fetal ultrasound will be used before, after, and possibly during the procedure to evaluate the fetus's position and heart rate.
  • Electronic fetal heart monitoring will be used before and after the procedure. An active fetus whose heart rate increases normally with movement is usually considered to be healthy. If the fetus's heart rate becomes abnormal, the version procedure may be stopped.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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