Open Access Open Badges Research article

Vaginal breech delivery: results of a prospective registration study

Ingvild Vistad1*, Milada Cvancarova2, Berit L Hustad1 and Tore Henriksen3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sorlandet Hospital HF, Kristiansand, Norway

2 Department of Oncology, National Resource Center for Late Effects, Oslo University Hospital and University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

3 Women’s and Infant’s Division, Section of Obstetrics, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital and University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:153  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-153

Published: 24 July 2013



Most countries recommend planned cesarean section in breech deliveries, which is considered safer than vaginal delivery. As one of few countries in the western world Norway has continued to practice planned vaginal delivery in selected women. The aim of this study is to evaluate prospectively registered neonatal and maternal outcomes in term singleton breech deliveries in a Norwegian hospital during a ten years period. We aim to compare maternal and neonatal outcomes in term breech pregnancies subjected either to planned vaginal or elective cesarean section.


A prospective registration study including 568 women with term breech deliveries (>37 weeks) consecutively registered at Sorlandet Hospital Kristiansand between 2001 and 2011. Fetal and maternal outcomes were compared according to delivery method; planned vaginal delivery versus planned cesarean section.


Of 568 women, elective cesarean section was planned in 279 (49%) cases and vaginal delivery was planned in 289 (51%) cases. Acute cesarean section was performed in 104 of the planned vaginal deliveries (36.3%). There were no neonatal deaths. Two cases of serious neonatal morbidity were reported in the planned vaginal group. One infant had seizures, brachial plexus injury, and cephalhematoma. The other infant had 5-minutes Apgar < 4. Twenty-nine in the planned vaginal group (10.0%) and eight in the planned cesarean section group (2.9%) (p < 0.001) were transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. However, only one infant was admitted for ≥4 days. According to follow-up data (median six years) none of these infants had long-term sequelae. Regarding maternal morbidity, blood loss was the only variable that was significantly higher in the planned cesarean section group versus in the vaginal delivery group (p < 0.001).


Strict guidelines were followed in all cases. There were no neonatal deaths. Two infants had serious neonatal morbidity in the planned vaginal group without long-term sequelae.