Women with breech babies feel pressured to have caesarean sections in Australia

on 24 March 2022

Pregnant women with identified breeched babies feel pressured into having a caesarean section based on the advice they receive in Australia.

A systematic review of the experiences of women who had a baby in the breech position found that women felt significantly pressured to accept the advice to have a caesarean section.

Lead Author of the review, Dr Sara Morris of Edith Cowan University School of Nursing and Midwifery in Australia, said: “Clinical practice guidelines, which focus on VBB [vaginal breech birth] without also discussing the risks of a caesarean section have the potential to sway clinician attitudes and impact mothers’ decision-making.”

Researchers looked at peer-reviewed articles which explored women’s experiences of breech presentation published between 2012 and 2021, which included five qualitative studies and one case control study.

They found that women felt external pressure for a caesarean birth because of the perceptions and risks round breech birth.

Following the research, it was recommended that women are made aware of all their options available to them if they have a breech baby so they can make an informed decision.

“Maternity healthcare workers have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide unbiased and non-judgemental counselling regarding the risks and benefits of all breech birth modes. Without all relevant information being provided – including the right to refuse as well as alternative options available – the legal requirements for informed consent are not met,” Dr Sara Morris added.

In conclusion to the systematic review, researchers said further research is needed on the safety and effectiveness of alternative breech birth methods such as upright birth position, as well as more counselling and training for health professionals on breech births so women are presented with choices.

The systematic review was published in the European Journal of Midwifery and can be accessed here.

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