‘Stress, anger, fear and injustice’: An international qualitative survey of women's experiences planning a vaginal breech birth

Karolina Petrovska, Nicole P. Watts, Christine Catling, Andrew Bisits, Caroline SE Homer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective the outcomes of the Term Breech Trial had a profound impact on women's options for breech birth, with caesarean section now seen as the default method for managing breech birth by many clinicians. Despite this, the demand for planned vaginal breech birth from women does exist. This study aimed to examine the experiences of women who sought a vaginal breech birth to increase understanding as to how to care for women seeking this birth option. 

Design an electronic survey was distributed to women online via social media. The survey consisted of qualitative and quantitative questions, with the qualitative data being the focus of this paper. Open ended questions sought information on the ways in which woman sourced a clinician skilled in vaginal breech birth and the level of support and quality of information provided from clinicians regarding vaginal breech birth. Thematic analysis was used to analyse and code the qualitative data into major themes. 

Findings in total, 204 women from over seven countries responded to the survey. Written responses to the open ended questions were categorised into seven themes: Seeking the chance to try for a VBB; Encountering coercion and fear; Putting the birth before the baby?; Dealing with emotional wounds; Searching for information and support; Traveling across boundaries; Overcoming obstacles in the system. 

Key conclusions for women seeking vaginal breech birth, limited system and clinical support can impede access to balanced information and options for care. Recognition of existing evidence on the safety of vaginal breech birth, as well as the presence of clinical guidelines that support it, may assist in promoting vaginal breech birth as a legitimate option that should be available to women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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