London - Last week researchers from the University of Cambridge called for all mothers to have an ultrasound scan one month before their baby is due -which is, in my view, an excellent idea.
It would help spot breech babies (those that are the wrong way round in the womb), meaning there will be no worrying surprises during labour.
It would also reduce the need for emergency Caesareans, which are more risky than those planned in the cold light of day.
The Cambridge study calculated that more than 4 000 emergency Caesareans could be avoided every year if women were given an ultrasound scan at 36 weeks, in addition to scans at 18 and 21 weeks.
The extra scan would give doctors time to try to turn a breech baby around or allow a safer planned Caesarean.
There is a premium on knowing which way up the baby is at the end of pregnancy, and mostly this can be detected by a simple examination of the abdomen of the expectant mother. However, in the present era, when so many pregnant women are overweight, this is more difficult than it once was.
Natural delivery of babies presenting "by the breech" was safely accomplished when I was the obstetric assistant on a labour ward in the Seventies.
But that was before the development of ultrasound scanning and required an additional degree of training and experience, including the magnificently named Mauriceau-Smellie-Veit manoeuvre.
This involved inserting both hands to gently flex the baby’s head with the left hand, while gently pulling the baby’s shoulders with the right hand, and completing the delivery.
With the obesity epidemic masking breech babies until the last minute and today’s doctors lacking the breech delivery expertise of their predecessors, hopefully the call to routinely scan pregnant women at 36 weeks will be heard - making births safer for all.Daily Mail