A fetus with the feet, buttocks, or legs pointing down toward
the cervix is said to be in breech position. Before birth, most breech fetuses
change position so that the head points downward, but some breech fetuses stay
in breech position late into the third trimester (the last part of
The frank breech position occurs when the
baby's buttocks are in place to come out first during delivery. The legs extend
straight up in front of the body, with the feet near the head. This is the most
common type of breech position.
breech position occurs when the baby's buttocks are down near the birth canal
and the legs are folded at the knees, so the feet are close to the
The footling breech position
occurs when one leg (single footling) or both legs (double footling) are
stretched out below the buttocks. One or both of the baby's legs would come out
first during a vaginal delivery. A vaginal delivery is never recommended for a
baby in the footling breech position.
A medical procedure called external cephalic version can
sometimes successfully turn a breech fetus to head-down position before
delivery. A cesarean section is recommended for most breech deliveries.
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.