Physicians should no longer automatically opt to perform a cesarean section in the case of a breech birth, according to new guidelines by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.
Released yesterday, the guidelines are a response to new evidence that shows many women are safely able to vaginally deliver babies who enter the birth canal with the buttocks or feet first. Normally, the infant descends head first.
“Our primary purpose is to offer choice to women,” said André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the SOGC.
“More women are feeling disappointed when there is no one who is trained to assist in breech vaginal delivery,” he adds....
The new approach was prompted by a reassessment of earlier trials. It now appears that there is no difference in complication rates between vaginal and cesarean section deliveries in the case of breech births....
This article also highlighted the SOGC's position on normal birth:
The new decision to offer vaginal breech birth aligns with the SOGC promotion of normal childbirth – spontaneous labour, followed by a delivery that is not assisted by forceps, vacuum or cesarean section. In December of 2008, the society release a policy statement that included its recommendation for a development of national practice guidelines on normal childbirth.
“The safest way to deliver has always been the natural way,” said Dr. Lalonde.
“Vaginal birth is the preferred method of having a baby because a C-section in itself has complications.”
Cesarean sections, in which incisions are made through a mother's abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby, can lead to increased chance of bleeding and infections and can cause further complications for pregnancies later on.
“There's the idea out there in the public sometimes that having a C-section today with modern anesthesia and modern hospitals is as safe as having a normal childbirth, but we don't think so,” said Dr. Lalonde.
“It is the general principle in medicine to not make having a cesarean section trivial.”
The SOGC believes that if a woman is well-prepared during pregnancy, she has the innate ability to deliver vaginally.
Another article in The Vancouver Sun, Canadian docs to stop automatic C-sections for breech babies, covers much of the same information about the change in breech policy:
In a major shift in medical practice and another assault on Canada's rising cesarean section rate, Canada's delivery doctors are being told to stop automatically scheduling C-sections for breech babies and attempt a normal delivery instead — something significant numbers of obstetricians aren't trained to do.
New guidelines issued Wednesday by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada say women carrying babies in the breech, or bottom-first, position should be given the right to choose to attempt a traditional delivery when possible.
The society says that women in Canada want the choice, and that some women with breech babies are delivering at home "because they knew if they went to hospital A, B or C it would not be offered," says Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice-president of the obstetricians' group and an adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McGill University and the University of Ottawa.Lalonde says the group is working aggressively to ensure future specialists are trained in breech vaginal deliveries and is organizing courses across Canada for practising doctors to refresh their training.
I am somewhat stunned at this dramatic shift in policy. The ACOG could definitely take some hints in listening to women and looking closely at the evidence from their friendly northern neighbors...This makes me want to go outside and sing "O Canada" at the top of my lungs!
ps--I love Unnecesarean's illustration!