City Research Online

Competence and expertise in physiological breech birth

Walker, S. (2017). Competence and expertise in physiological breech birth. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This doctoral thesis by prospective publication aims to provide pragmatic, evidence-based guidance for the development and evaluation of physiological breech skills and services within the context of contemporary maternity care. The research uses multiple methods to explore development of professional competence and expertise. While skill and experience are acknowledged in multiple national guidelines as important safety factors in vaginal breech birth, prior to this research no guidance existed about how skill and experience should be defined, developed and evaluated. The thesis begins with an integrative review of the efficacy of current breech training methods, highlighting a lack of evidence associating any training methods with improved outcomes for breech births. Following this are two papers reporting the results of a Delphi consensus technique study involving a panel of breech experienced obstetricians, midwives and service user representatives. The first outlines standards of competence, training components and volume of experience recommended to achieve competence and maintain proficiency in upright breech birth. The second outlines principles of practice for physiological breech birth, rooted in relationship and response, and divergent from medicalised practices based on prediction and control. Following this is a grounded theory paper exploring the deliberate acquisition of breech competence among midwives and obstetricians with moderate upright breech experience. The paper reports a theoretical model that can inform development of breech teams and training programmes. The final paper reports a mixed methods analysis of data from the Delphi and grounded theory studies concerning breech expertise. The results present a model of generative expertise, underpinned by affinity, flexibility and relationship, which may function to increase the availability and safety of vaginal breech birth. Each paper is followed by critical analysis and reflection. The thesis ends with a discussion of the implications for practice and research in light of the overall body of work.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
[thumbnail of Walker, Shawn_Redacted.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (2MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login