The influence of counseling on the mode of breech birth: A single-center observational prospective study in The Netherlands

Midwifery. 2017 Dec;55:96-102. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2017.09.012. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Objective: women in the Netherlands, with a fetus in breech presentation, are thoroughly counseled to make an informed choice for the mode of delivery. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of counseling techniques on women's choices for the mode of delivery and subsequently to compare fetal and maternal outcomes of vaginal breech birth versus planned caesarean section.

Study design: we performed an observational prospective study. Data on breech deliveries were prospectively collected. We used ANOVA to identify variables influencing women's choice for the mode of delivery.

Setting: the obstetric department of the Red Cross Hospital in Beverwijk, the Netherlands.

Participants: women with a singleton gestation (>37 + 0 weeks) and a fetus in breech presentation were included.

Measurements and findings: between January 2007 and December 2015 364 women were included. Counseling technique (p =<0.001) and maternal education (p = 0.046) were significantly associated with the choice of mode of delivery. Of all included women 33% (N = 119) opted for a vaginal breech delivery and 52% (N = 190) opted for a planned cesarean section. 15% (N = 55) were unexpected breeches. Of the planned vaginal delivery group 66% (N = 79) delivered vaginal, whereas 99.5% (N = 189) of the women in the planned cesarean section group underwent a planned cesarean section. There were no significant differences in maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Key conclusions: women's choice on the mode of delivery and the eventual modus partus of fetuses in breech presentation is strongly influenced by the counseling technique. Vaginal breech birth in low-risk women is a safe option without long term morbidity in neonates.

Implications for practice: counselors should be aware of their influence on women's choice for mode of delivery in breech presentation. Counseling should be done using evidence based information.

Keywords: Breech presentation; Cesarean section; Counseling technique; Mode of delivery; Morbidity; Vaginal breech birth.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Breech Presentation / epidemiology
  • Breech Presentation / therapy*
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Counseling / methods
  • Counseling / standards*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Natural Childbirth / statistics & numerical data
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies