We wished to gain insight into Canadian hospital policy changes between 2000 and 2007 in response to (1) the initial results of the Term Breech Trial suggesting delivery by Caesarean section was preferable for term breech presentation, and (2) the trial's two-year follow-up and other research and commentary suggesting that risks associated with vaginal breech delivery and delivery by Caesarean section were similar. We also wished to determine the availability of vaginal breech delivery and the feasibility of establishing breech clinics and on-call squads, and whether these could include midwives.
In 2006, we sent surveys to the 30 largest maternity centres in Canada asking about their changes in practice in response to results of the initial Term Breech Trial and the subsequent two-year follow-up and the possibility of establishing breech clinics and on-call delivery squads and whether they could include midwives.
Of the 30 surveys sent, responses were received from 20 maternity centres in six provinces. Hospitals were almost five times more likely to adopt a policy of requiring Caesarean section for breech delivery when current evidence suggested that it decreased risk for the neonate than they were to reintroduce the option of vaginal breech delivery when it did not. A breech clinic was considered possible, feasible, and desirable by only one centre, and forming a breech squad was similarly regarded by only two hospitals; 70% of respondents, however, did not entirely dismiss either possibility.
The weight of epidemiologic evidence does not support the practice developed in Canadian hospitals since the Term Breech Trial that recommends delivery by Caesarean section for all breech presentations. Obstetric and midwifery bodies will require creative strategies to make clinical practice consistent with current national and international evidence.