Why is Breech considered to be dangerous?
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Until around 2001, breech babies were birthed normally. In 2001 a study took place called the Hannah Trial. The findings of this report suggested that breech babies were safer to be born via c-section.
The trial looked at the outcome of women birthing breech babies on their backs with their legs in stirrups versus c-sections. However, it did not look at women birthing breech babies naturally - which is in an upright, forward or all-fours position with no instruments.
When the findings came out, medical guidelines changed literally overnight. Following the report, any woman with a breech baby had their baby via c-section.
Any midwives at the time who were skilled in breech deliveries were no longer able to practise these skills, and it lead to a wave of newly qualified midwives who did not learn this aspect in their training.
Only more recently was it recognised that the trial was in fact flawed, and the report findings insignificant. However, the protocol for breech births still has a way to go.
Many women carrying a breech baby will be advised by doctors to have a c-section. Infact, of the 4% of babies that are breech, 3% are delivered by c-sections and only 1% via vaginal breech birth.
Assuming there are no complications or known risks, there is no reason why a mother should not be able to attempt birthing her breech baby naturally.
And as I found, there's a postcode lottery as to whether your local maternity ward will embrace it or not. Some are more onside and well-versed than others. Mine wasn't, and I had to fight for the birth I wanted. Even more so, when I went 15 days overdue!
What makes doctors jittery is that ultimately, it's out of their control. But on reading the literature, a breech baby can birth itself. The theory is "hands off the breech".
You often find if doctors agree to a vaginal delivery, they recommend the mother to be on her back, with legs in stirrups. This is because there's a theory that a birthing breech baby can get its head stuck.
However the likes of Jane Ford and Mary Cronk, pioneering midwives who have delivered thousands of breech babies between them, suggest this is not a concern so long as the mother is upright and forward while birthing the baby.
Let's remember, it's the midwives who are experts in natural deliveries, not the doctors.
So when a mother comes to me with a baby presenting breech I share all of this information with her and more. There is so much literature out there...it's about being educated and making an informed decision.
Do your research, speak to the right people and know your rights. It's your birth, your way.
If you have a breech baby or know someone who is carrying a breech baby, I'd love to help. Get in touch here!