Tag Archives: student midwives

student midwife literature reviews

My name is …, I’m a third year student midwife at X University and I am about to begin my literature review, I have decided to focus on vaginal breech birth. I haven’t finalised my question yet as I feel I need to read some more research to be able to word it correctly but I’m really interested in vaginal breech birth and practictoner skill. I’m ambitiously hoping my review might encourage the trust I work in to trial a breech birth team. I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the direction of any research regarding practitioner skill or breech birth teams? I understand we need much more research, but in your opinion is there any particular area that is really lacking in research that would support a move towards normalising vaginal breech births? I appreciate this is a very busy time for everyone having to work from home and understand you may not have time to respond to me at the moment but I’m so excited at the idea that don’t want to leave any stone unturned, any advice you have would be very appreciated.  

Hope to hear from you soon!

(Thank you for permission to share this exchange.)

Danish midwifery student Pernille Ravn on her elective placement, demonstrating the movement of baby to mother’s abdomen when performing the shoulder press manoeuvre


Thank you for your message and your interest.

I write about this topic constantly https://breechbirth.org.uk/publications/. My PhD thesis contains a section on it, although this is a few years old now. Reference lists to our publications will help get you started. We also include information on building competence in the Breech Birth Network on-line training.

You could do a review on breech teams, breech clinics or midwife involvement in breech care. We need someone to lead some sort of consensus project to produce something like this for breech midwives: https://www.networks.nhs.uk/nhs-networks/diabetes-midwives/documents/NHSDAKC%20Midwives%20Standards.pdf That is a long-term project that will require funding, support and networking with key stakeholders, such as the RCM and RCOG. But it starts with a literature review.

You could do a literature review around midwives’ roles, any literature about competencies already out there, any evidence about the roles that midwives are taking, any evidence about outcomes associated with midwife-attended breech births (there is some in one of the TBT follow-up studies, I think by Su?).

My advice would be, whatever you do, treat it as a first step in becoming an expert in this area yourself. While it is great to try to convince your Trust they can do this, eventually, someone is going to need to actually put themselves on call and attend the births. So while you understandably feel at the beginning of a journey, see yourself as starting and committing to that journey, rather than trying to convince someone else to 😊 It may take years, but the breech revolution is a looooong-term game, requiring all of us to take small steps, with patience, but continuing to move forward, inch by inch. You will be constantly running into a wall. We turn to each other for support, do not give in to despair, and keep going. Eventually, enough of us running into the same wall will knock it down.

Another option is to do a review of outcomes associated with breech clinics and breech teams. This would be very valuable, but it will require a ‘no stone unturned’ approach indeed. This is because content about clinics and teams is usually embedded in articles, rather than listed as a key word. So you would have to do a general search on ‘breech presentation’ after 2000, eliminate obviously irrelevant articles and duplicates, then do searches on the words ‘team’, ‘clinic’ and ‘specialist’ and other related words such as ‘on-call’ and ‘stand-by,’ within the abstract and text of the articles themselves. It’s not as simple as a PICO search on randomised controlled trials, but it would pull together the general trends associated with clinics and teams (for ECV as well as VBB results), demonstrating a need for further research focusing on these as interventions themselves. (Here’s an example to get you started.)

To that end, make sure you are using a Reference Management Software programme. I use Mendeley. If you are going to become a breech specialist yourself, you will need to be very familiar with the literature and have it easy to hand when you want to apply for funding or write up your work. Do that now and begin to build your library of evidence, organised to help you make your arguments. Reference Management Software will also help you search the text.

Be sure to check the reference lists of any articles that qualify and our publications.

And choose a topic that you are interested in going on to do further research about because a literature review is the first step. Aim to write a literature review that you can publish, even in a student midwife journal, but ideally more. You are not doing a ‘student midwife literature review.’ You are doing a literature review. There’s no reason your first go need be any less worthy than any medical or post-graduate student doing a literature review for the first time, many of which get published. Your work and your mind are just as worthy, and when you spend time doing something properly, you have insight others can learn from.

Once you graduate, begin to identify sources of funding for the next stages. Research/breech practice is a great combination because it gives you some flexibility (e.g. not responsible for as many clinics/shifts) and helps move practice forward.

If you’ve done our on-line training, you can begin to become involved in assisting with training through BBN. Continual review and engagement is the best way to continually develop your confidence. We have on-line seminars frequently.

Join the community of practice: Have you found really good breech team / breech clinic references for your literature review? Post them below in the comments to help others get started.

I am very happy to provide specific advice and guidance as an external supervisor for students who are intending to follow through, taking their project to publication. We need more voices contributing to this effort.

Best wishes,


Update: I just undertook a mini literature review due to a student reporting how difficult it was to find qualifying papers. First: sympathy. Yes it is. Second: Unfortunately, there is no shortcut for very thorough understanding and overview of a topic in which you would like to gain expertise.

But how exciting! Every time I do this, I learn more, from discovering more qualifying papers to other topics that people have looked into. I could spend all day lost in these papers, connecting one to the other, piecing the jigsaw together. However, I need to get on with other things. First, some more tips:

  1. Frankfurt. This group publish under FRABAT. You could make an argument for this being a dedicated centre, and all of the subsequent publications would qualify for inclusion. The group challenges many strongly-held assumptions about ‘exclusion criteria,’ which may not be as useful in an experienced centre.
  2. Do you speak/read Spanish? Garcia Adanez et al 2013
  3. Do you speak/read French? Marzouk et al 2011