Nearly all women having a breech baby are likely to be told to have a caesarean section following publication of a "landmark" study.
Researchers who studied more than 2000 women whose babies were breech found that the risk of death or serious harm to the baby was more than three times lower in those who had a caesarean.
One of the UK team involved in the study said the results were so significant that all maternity units would be expected to change their practice immediately.
"We can't continue to do something that has been proven to be unsafe," Derek Tufnell, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Bradford Royal Infirmary told BBC News Online.
Mr Tufnell, who also acts as an expert witness in court cases, said that, from now on if a woman has a damaged breech baby through normal delivery and had not been informed of the need to have a caesarean then the doctor would have no defense.
"If you read this research then you will see this has to be followed - if what we are all about is ensuring healthy mums and healthy babies."
The research, co-ordinated by Mary Hannah and colleagues at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto is the first major study of its kind.
Until now there has been some doubt about whether vaginal delivery or caesarean was preferable for full term breech babies.
The results from 26 countries, published in the Lancet, were unequivocal - three babies in the group which underwent caesarean section died compared with 13 in the group which delivered vaginally.
Fourteen babies in the caesarean section group suffered problems after birth, compared with 39 in the normal delivery group.
There was no difference in outcome for the mothers in both groups.
The results were even more striking in countries which have a very low infant mortality rate, such as the UK.