New research: traditional deliveries for breech babies often safer than C-sections

Saturday, November 13, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: breech babies, C-sections, health news

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(NaturalNews) About 4 percent of babies about to be born are in the "breech position" -- meaning their feet or buttocks are positioned to be delivered first instead of their heads. Mainstream medicine has long seen this as a virtually mandatory reason to use an operation known as a Caesarian section (C-section) for breech births which involves, literally, cutting the mother open to remove the infant. In fact, after a large international study published in 2000 emphasized surgery was the most cautious approach to breech births, C-sections soon became the "only way" for those deliveries in hospitals.

But now Tel Aviv University researchers have come up with evidence C-sections are not the best way to deliver most babies in breech position. Recent studies by scientists including Marek Glezerman of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Rabin Medical Center which have been published in major obstetric journals world-wide were just presented at the Canadian Congress on Breech Delivery. The conclusions? Not only are breech babies generally at no more at risk during vaginal delivery than if delivered by C-section, but natural vaginal delivery is far safer for mothers.

Glezerman emphasized at the Canadian meeting that a C-section is not simply another method of delivering a baby. It is a major surgical procedure that carries with it some potentially life threatening risks; it also decreases the chances a woman can breastfeed. What's more, having a C-section also increases risks for women when they become pregnant again in the future. That's because once a woman has delivered by C-section, it becomes more dangerous and occasionally impossible to deliver vaginally because the Caesarian section surgery raises the risk uterine walls and muscles could rupture during birth.

It is much easier for a doctor to perform a C-section than to deliver a breech baby vaginally -- and, of course, in some emergency situations a C-section is justified. But Glezerman pointed out in a press statement that many women can benefit medically by the return to traditional techniques of safely and naturally birthing breech babies.

"We are trying to unite obstetricians and midwives in the field to revive vaginal delivery for breech presentations," he stated. "The skill has disappeared. Residents are no longer taught these techniques, and senior physicians are doing it less and less. We need to go back to the future and relearn what has been forgotten."

Glezerman is campaigning worldwide for doctors to return to skilled vaginal delivery of breech babies and, to that end, he has founded workshops at the Rabin Medical Center in Israel to teach the newest generation of gynecologists and obstetricians techniques for vaginal delivery of breech babies. His courses include the critically important delivery techniques of breech delivery, which include changing presentation from breech to head and management of different breech presentations.

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