Recent press articles have highlighted issues with NHS policies regarding caesarean births.
Highlighted in the BBC is a warning by the coronor that there is ‘a risk of future deaths if the NHS favours vaginal delivery over Caesarean sections on the basis of cost.’ The full article is available here.
The Daily Mail talks about ‘NHS policing pregnancies to put women off caesareans.’ The full article is available here.
In 2011 NICE guidelines stated that all women can have a caesarean. This was controversial with many criticising some mothers for being ‘too posh to push.’
Being dictated to by budgets is not going to improve overall birth outcomes for women. Presently in the UK our rate of ceasarean births is 25%. Is this too high?
There is an interesting statistic from The Farm, Ina May Gaskin’s natural birth centre in Tennessee. At The Farm, the Caesarean rate is 1.4%, and their safety record is very considerably above the American average. I absolutely believe that every one of those operations saved a life.
There are risks to vaginal births. There are risks to caesarean births. No-one would dispute that fact. The risks are different. A caesarean has become a very safe operation, but there are still risks, as there are with any surgery. Some of the risks are long term risks for the baby, e.g. increased incidence of asthma and failure to seed the baby’s microbiome which can affect its immune system for the whole of its life.
The caesarean rate varies from hospital to hospital in this country but is in general about 25%. In the USA it is nearly 40%. There are some countries such as the South American countries, South Africa, and the Middle and Far East in which the caesarean rate has reached an unbelievable (except that it’s true) 80%. The World Health Organisation recommends that a caesarean rate about 10-15% does not improve safety. Therefore about half the women who have a caesarean in this country are not doing it for reasons of safety.
Can it be that 1 in 4 women are made in such a way that they can’t give birth? If it were, the human race would not have survived.
One thing we must always do and is very clearly expressed by Elizabeth Prochaska, barrister and chair of Birthrights. We must trust women and listen to them. They should always be central in decisions made around their birth and they should feel confident and happy at all times.
If you would like to find out more information there are some excellent and well researched articles on this subject on the website www.sarawickham.com