European Journal of Midwifery
School of Nursing and Midwifery
INTRODUCTION: Currently, caesarean section is the primary mode of birth for a breech presenting fetus, leading to a deskilling of clinicians and limitation of birth choices for women. The aim of this review is to present a synthesized summary of existing literature related to women's experiences of breech birth mode decision-making. METHODS: A systematic search of the literature was conducted in April 2021, utilizing five databases to identify and obtain peer-reviewed articles meeting the predetermined selection criteria. RESULTS: Four major categories were synthesized from the integrated review: 1) Women who desire a vaginal birth may experience a range of negative emotions such as feelings of disempowerment, loss, uncertainty and a sense of isolation; 2) Women who experience a breech presentation at term experience significant pressures to conform to expectations of medical professionals and their families due to perceptions of risk related to breech birth; 3) Breech birth decision-making in a limiting system; and 4) Overall satisfaction with the decision to plan a vaginal breech birth. CONCLUSION: Women with a breech presenting fetus at term experience a complex range of emotions and internal and external pressures due to perceptions of risk around breech birth. Midwives were seen as helpful throughout the breech experience. The reduced caesarean section rate for breech, observed in studies exploring specialized care pathways or dedicated services, could reduce the incidence of Severe Acute Maternal Morbidity.
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