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Are midwifery students adequately prepared for vaginal breech birth in clinical practice?

02 March 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 3


While the value of the clinical skills and expertise required to enable safe vaginal breech birth remains high, midwives who possess these skills are becoming scarce. Additionally, for many midwifery students, vaginal breech birth is becoming somewhat of an elusive event, rarely experienced in clinical practice when completing their training. Not so long ago, this was a standard competency taught to and held by obstetricians and midwives alike, but for those in developed nations working within robust healthcare systems, the frequency of planned vaginal breech birth is on a downward trend, and this is reflected in midwifery educational curriculums.

The heightened focus on risk affects maternity care providers' attitudes towards vaginal breech birth (Berhan and Haileamlak, 2016), and this professional apprehension may have the potential to limit the vital support, advocacy and empowerment of women's choices. In relation to current and future midwifery practice, these professional attitudes, coupled with tertiary and clinical organisational teaching methods, may be highly influential. Simulation is a particular teaching tool with a long history in obstetric and midwifery education (McKenna et al, 2011), and which continues to play a significant role in training in contemporary educational institutions and clinical environments. Education, and the enabling of sharing of knowledge, is often a major deciding factor in certain skills being imparted to the next generation of clinicians. This raises the question as to whether midwifery students are being adequately prepared to apply vaginal breech birth skills to clinical practice or not, and ultimately if planned vaginal breech birth is facing extinction.

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