Some fetuses remain in the breech position beyond 30 weeks and as a result doctors must determine the safest, appropriate delivery. Depending on the specific circumstances, delivery can proceed vaginally or a cesarean should be performed. 

The primary risks in a vaginal breech delivery are that the umbilical cord may prolapse or fall – possibly impairing circulation, or that the head may become trapped because of an incompletely dilated cervix. If this occurs, it would be better to consider a cesarean delivery. Negligent determination of the delivery procedure which results in injury to the baby or mother can be grounds for medical malpractice.

How Should the Determination be Made?

Generally, doctors consider three important elements in determining the optimal delivery procedure:

  • Whether prior evaluation of the size ratio between fetus and mother indicates that a vaginal delivery will not create any risks.
  • The ability to maintain continuous fetal monitoring with appropriate technical equipment throughout the delivery.
  • In cases where the position was unknown, how far along the delivery has proceeded before the breech position is discovered.

If a doctor chooses to proceed with a vaginal delivery for a breech baby, the following preparations for a possible emergency C-section should be made in advance, or at least early in the labor process:

  • Preparation of Anesthesia
  • Availability of an Operating Room
  • Informed Consent from the mother
  • Appropriate Medical Staff

What if the Mother and/or Baby Were Injured?

If the baby or mother were injured during the delivery procedure because of the breech position, there may be grounds for medical malpractice if there was negligence in the operation of the delivery procedure. Furthermore, negligence can also be found in the failure to determine the safest delivery procedure.

If, despite knowing of the breech position and the less than optimal conditions, the doctor proceeds with a vaginal delivery, there may be grounds for medical malpractice. However, there is significant case law where courts have ruled that a doctor is not negligent if there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the doctor made a reasonable determination.

Do I Need an Attorney Experienced with Medical Malpractice?

If you, or a loved one, have been injured by medical malpractice, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about the value of your case and what types of recoveries are available to you.