Trial evidence supports a policy of caesarean section for singleton breech presentations at term, but vaginal breech birth is considered a safe option for selected women.
To provide recent Australian data on outcomes associated with intended mode of delivery for term breech singletons in women who meet conservative eligibility criteria for vaginal breech birth.
Materials and Methods
Birth and hospital records from 2009 to 2012 in New South Wales were used to identify women with nonanomalous pregnancies who would be considered eligible for vaginal breech birth. Intended mode of delivery was inferred from labour onset and management.
Of 10 133 women with term breech singleton pregnancies, 5197 (51.3%) were classified as eligible for vaginal breech delivery. Of these, 6.8% intended vaginal breech birth, 76.4% planned caesarean section and intention could not be determined for 16.8%. Women intending vaginal delivery had higher rates of neonatal morbidity (6.0% vs 2.1%), neonatal birth trauma (7.4% vs 0.9%), Apgar <4 at one minute (10.5% vs 1.1%), Apgar <7 at five minutes (4.3% vs 0.5%) and neonatal intensive care unit/special care nursery admissions (16.2% vs 6.6%) than those planning caesarean section. Increased perinatal risks remained after adjustment for maternal characteristics. Severe maternal morbidity (1.4% vs 0.7%) and post‐partum readmission (4.6% vs 4.0%) were higher in the intended vaginal compared to planned caesarean births, but these differences were not statistically significant. Conclusions In a population of women classified as being eligible for vaginal breech birth, intended vaginal delivery was associated with higher rates of neonatal morbidity than planned caesarean section.