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Perinatal outcomes of babies delivered by second-stage Caesarean section versus vacuum extraction in a resource-poor setting, Nigeria - a retrospective analysisBackground To evaluate the perinatal status of neonates delivered by assisted vaginal delivery (AVD) versus second-stage caesarean birth (CS). Methods A 5-year retrospective study was conducted in a tertiary hospital. Data was analyzed with IBM SPSS® version 25.0 statistical software using descriptive/inferential statistics. Results A total of 559 births met the inclusion criteria; AVD (211; 37.7%) and second-stage CS (348; 62.3%). Over 80% of the women were aged 20–34 years: 185 (87.7%) for the AVD group, and 301 (86.5%) for the second-stage CS group. More than half of the women were parous: 106 (50.2%) for the AVD group, and 184 (52.9%) for the second-stage CS group. The commonest indication for intervention in both groups is delayed second stage: 178 (84.4%) in the AVD group, and 239 (68.9%) in the second-stage CS group. There was a statistically significant difference in decision to delivery interval (DDI) between both groups: 197 (93.4%) women in the AVD group had DDI of less than 30 min and 21 women (6.0%) in the CS group had a DDI of less than 30 min (p < 0.001). During the DDI, there were 3 (1.4%) intra-uterine foetal deaths (IUFD) in the AVD and 19 (5.5%) in the CS group (p = 0.023). After adjusting for co-variates, there were statistically significant differences between the AVD and CS groups in the foetal death during DDI (p = 0.029) and perinatal deaths (p = 0.040); but no statistically significant differences in severe perinatal outcomes (p = 0.811), APGAR scores at 5th minutes (p = 0.355), and admission into the NICU (p = 0.946). After adjusting for co-variates, use of AVD was significantly associated with the level of experience of the care provider, with resident (junior) doctors less likely to opt for AVD than CS (aOR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.29–0.70). Conclusion Second-stage CS when compared with AVD was not associated with improved perinatal outcomes. AVD is a practical option for reducing the rising Caesarean delivery rates without compromising the clinical status of the newborn.