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News2007June › Caesareans: Give the mother the facts, and the rate drops › June 2007

Caesareans: Give the mother the facts, and the rate drops

Caesarean rates in the USA and UK have rocketed to around 25 per cent of all births, usually because of a cautious 'just-in-case' approach

Caesarean rates in the USA and UK have rocketed to around 25 per cent of all births, usually because of a cautious 'just-in-case' approach.

This rate is also driven by the obstetrician's mantra of 'Once a caesarean mother, always a caesarean mother'.

In reality, it's reckoned that just 5 per cent of all births need surgical intervention to protect the life of the mother or unborn baby, and the World Health Organization has stated that every country should be looking at caesarean section rates of no more than 10 per cent.

So what happens when the mother-to-be is given all the facts, and is allowed to decide on the method of delivery herself?
This radical idea has been tested by a group of mavericks from Bristol University, who tested the theory on 742 pregnant women who all had a caesarean section before.

Convention would have dictated that all would have had a caesarean, but once the women had been given all the facts, 158 - or 21 per cent - went on to have a natural birth. Just 63 had an emergency caesarean - in other words, the surgery was necessary - and the rest had an elective caesarean, in which they chose the procedure.

Amazing what happens when you let people in on the know.

(Source: British Medical Journal, 2007; 334: 1305-9).

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