Safety Scans to Spot Breech Babies
Norfolk mothers about to give birth will be the first in the country to be offered an ultrasound scan in order to help spot breech babies before they are born.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital currently delivers 6,000 babies a year including around 150 full term breech babies. It has now been given funding under an NHS safety campaign to provide 25 hand held scanners that will mean safer births for women who had no idea their baby was not in a head down position.
As part of the pilot scheme 190 midwives at NNUH are currently in the process of being trained to use and interpret the scanners. Then there will be one in every delivery room and two on the ante natal ward and midwife led birthing unit.
Jo Keable, Practice Development Midwife, explained that the midwife’s skill at ‘palpating’ or feeling for the baby’s position is 70% effective. Having the scanners would result in 100% effective diagnosis of any breech problems. A late diagnosis during labour that the baby is in a breech position leads to more emergency caesarean sections and other problems.
“We will be scanning all the women arriving during labour and those who come in for induction. When we discover a breech early on it means a woman can speak to an obstetrician and discuss options in relation to their individual needs. Some of them can go on to give birth normally and others may decide to have a caesarean.”
Jo went on to explain that babies normally turn head down ready for birth around 33 weeks. If they haven’t turned by labour then the birth can be more difficult and more distressing for the baby.
Consultant Obstetrician Martin Cameron said “We are delighted to be successful in bidding for this project. It’s a real opportunity to improve the care of women giving birth at the NNUH. Until now we have had abdominal palpating as a screening test, the scanners will provide an effective diagnostic test.
“As we are a pilot our results will be studied to see how successful we are in assessing the breeches and we will be publishing our results nationally and internationally.”