Posted October 10, 2012 in BIRTHING

Vaginal Breech Birth: Women Denied A Choice

A nurse holds the hand of a premature baby girl lying in an incubator at a hospital in Chongqing
A nurse holds the hand of a premature baby girl lying in an incubator at a hospital in Chongqing

Women who give birth vaginally are less likely to deal with postpartum depression as they require a shorter time to fully recover, they experience less pain and discomfort, have no visible scars on their body to accentuate the postpartum blues, are less prone to infections, blood clotting issues and hemorrhages.

Despite these hard to neglect advantages of natural delivery, many women are denied a choice when it comes to breech births. Instead, they’re recommended or even forced to opt for a cesarean, which is considered safer, more convenient and it’s also more profitable for hospitals and health care providers, as it is more expensive than a vaginal birth.

Women approaching their due date are often misinformed about the potentially devastating and catastrophic effects of vaginal breech birth and they end up choosing a c-section because of the potential of an entrapped fetal head unable to pass through her pelvis, or uterine rupture which could harm or even kill both the mother and the baby.

 But is this really so? Can a natural vaginal breech birth really have such tragic effects or is this only a scenario that hospitals want women to believe in order to opt for scheduled childbirths? It is obviously more convenient for a doctor to know exactly when his patient will give birth than to wait until the mom is ready to deliver her baby naturally.

Some women stay in labor for 20 hours or longer and they get to the hospital in the middle of the night, requiring immediate assistance from their doctors. It is easier and less stressful for a doctor to just schedule his patients’ c-sections so that these procedures fit perfectly into his working program?

 The preferred birth for a breech is a c-section, they say. And the main excuse health care providers use when forcing women to opt for cesarean operations is the incredibly low number of cases in which vaginal breech births cause serious complications for the mother or the baby. According to statistical data, severe damage in the unborn baby and life-threatening complications in the mother appear in less than 1% of vaginal breech births.

Why women are denied the choice.

We already saw some of the reasons expecting moms are not allowed to choose the method of delivery when it comes to breech births. There are, however, some more factors that make doctors and health care providers push women into c-sections:

  • The lack of properly trained doctors and midwives with the skills necessary to provide a safe vaginal breech birth is partly due to routine c-sections. This lack of skills and knowledge opens a vicious cycle: doctors are not well prepared therefore they recommend women to opt for c-sections. If women don’t want to undergo unnecessary surgeries, they’re forced to look for professionals who have the needed knowledge, skills and proper technique to assist her in delivering a healthy breech baby. But where to find those doctors and midwives from? The cycle never closes.
  • Laws and bans – lots of hospitals use court orders or develop their own, restrictive requirements and protocols to compel women to undergo c-sections. Although this violates human rights, there are not many women who have the courage to claim their rights when the health and life of their babies are in the hands of improperly trained doctors!

    Charlotte Sanchez CPM-is a certified Professional Midwife and
    Childbirth Educator of over 20years.