A Canadian study recently published in the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that vaginal deliveries of breech babies were significantly more likely to result in birth injury that those delivered by planned C-section. The study included data from 52,671 breech deliveries, and concluded that planned C-section is by far the safest method of delivery for breech babies.
What is a breech baby?
During normal pregnancies, the baby shifts around in the womb. Full-term babies naturally rotate so that the head emerges first during delivery. In breech babies, this shift has not occurred, and the legs or buttocks are positioned to emerge first. While vaginal birth is possible for breech babies, there are significant risks to the infant.
What the study found
This new study, lead by Dr. Janet Lyons of the University of British Columbia, has quantified those risks, and the results are incredible. Breech babies can be delivered one of three ways; planned C-section, C-section during labor, or vaginally. Those delivered by planned C-section had the lowest incidence of birth injury. Breech babies delivered by C-section during labor were 2.79 times more likely to be injured, while those delivered vaginally were 3.6 times more likely to suffer a birth injury.
Dr. Lyons told the New York Times that “The role of the provider is to decide who is suited to a vaginal breech and who is not, and to make sure the woman has all the information to make a good decision.” While the final decision is ultimately up to the parents, it is imperative that both parents be fully aware of the risks that a natural birth poses to a breech baby.
Vaginal breech births can have negative effects on both mother and baby. During a vaginal breech birth, the baby isn’t situated to minimize the pressures of labor, and can become stuck in the birth canal resulting in an emergency C-section. Additionally, the mother can suffer cervical or vaginal tearing from the unusual presentation that may require multiple surgeries to correct.
If you discover that your baby is in a breech position, the best single thing you can do is to be well informed. Consult with your doctor and your OBGYN to determine the risks to you and your baby. If you are uncomfortable with the conclusions, get a second opinion. There is everything to be gained by ensuring a healthy delivery for your child. If you or your child suffered injuries because of a breech birth, please contact Crandall & Pera Law for a free consultation in one of our Ohio or Kentucky offices.