Non-instrumental vaginal birth

Selected women

Selected women include those aged between 20 and 34 years, whose baby’s gestational age at birth was between 37 and 41 completed weeks, whose baby was a singleton and whose baby’s presentation was vertex.

Comparison of ‘selected’ groups of women allows for an indication of standard practice. Selected women, for this indicator, refers to a cohort of mothers who are expected to have reduced labour complications and better birth outcomes. The proportion of selected women is approximately one-third of all women who gave birth in 2017.

Clinical commentary

Vaginal birth without intervention is seen by many as the preferred method of birth, as women tend to have fewer postnatal complications and are more physically able in the short term to care for their new babies (Rowland & Redshaw 2012).

Maternal risks associated with vaginal birth include perineal tears, damage to the pelvic floor, pelvic organ prolapse, and persistent perineal or vulvar pain (van Roosmalen & Meguid 2014). Potential neonatal risks related to vaginal births comprise shoulder dystocia, fetal distress and birth injuries (Hannah et al. 2000). 

Indicator specifications and data

Excel source data tables are available from the Data tab.

For more information refer to Specifications and notes for analysis in the technical notes.


  • Hannah ME, Hannah WJ, Hewson SA, Hodnett ED, Saigal S & Willan AR 2000. Planned caesarean section versus planned vaginal birth for breech presentation at term: a randomised multicentre trial. Term Breech Trial Collaborative Group. Lancet 356:1375–1383.
  • Rowland I & Redshaw M 2012. Mode of birth and women’s psychological and physical wellbeing in the postnatal period. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 12:138.
  • van Roosmalen J & Meguid T 2014. The dilemma of vaginal breech delivery worldwide. Lancet 383:1863–1864.