Birth Definitions

Cephalic Presentation Definition

Cephalic presentation is the most common type of fetal presentation, in which the baby is in a head-down position in the uterus. In this position, the baby’s head is the first part of the body to come out of the mother’s vagina. Cephalic presentation is also sometimes called vertex presentation, although the latter is only one of the different categories of the former. This fetus turning to this position happens during the last three months of pregnancy.

The process by which the fetus moves from a breech to a cephalic position is known as head engagement. This occurs when the baby’s head is able to move down into the pelvis. The chin and forehead will press against the sacrum, and the occiput will press against the back of the mother’s pubic bone.

Other Types of Cephalic Presentations

The cephalic presentation can be further classified, according to the degree of flexion of the fetal head. A presentation is considered vertex if the fetal head is well-flexed. An incomplete flexion is called a sinciput presentation, a partially deflexed head is called a brow presentation, and a completely extended head is called a face presentation.

This image shows how often the term ‘Cephalic presentation” is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Types of Fetal Presentations

There are other types of presentations, including breech presentation, shoulder presentation, and transverse presentation. Breech presentation occurs when the baby’s buttocks or feet are the first to come out of the vagina. Shoulder presentation occurs when the baby’s arm or shoulder is the first to come out of the vagina. Transverse presentation occurs when the baby is lying across the uterus, instead of head-down.

These presentations other types of presentations, but they are much less common than cephalic presentation. In fact, breech presentation occurs in only about 3 percent of births, and shoulder presentation occurs in only 1 percent of births. transverse presentation occurs in even fewer pregnancies, about 0.5 percent. Giving birth with these presentations come along with certain risks.

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