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Caesarean Section - A Choice?

Being fully aware of the emotionally loaded and polarised nature of this topic, I will remain as impartial as possible here. Let's just agree on one thing though. At some level the idea of a successful natural childbirth is appealing to most women. Women instinctively know that the experience of childbirth could be beautiful. Most women, given the choice of an assured, uncomplicated, natural birth, weighed against the choice of a Caesarean section, would choose the former...in an ideal world. Often, sadly, the choice is driven by fear rather than informed selection.

Many women are now offered the choice between a natural or surgical birth, and a surprising number opt for the Caesarean over a natural birth (known as elective Caesarean). The World Health Organization tells us that there is no justification for a Caesarean birth rate exceeding 10-12%. In America today, one in four babies (25%) are delivered by C-Section. We can deduce (loosely) therefore that every other C-Section performed is done so electively or unnecessarily, and there is a growing culture of support in the medical profession for the trend towards surgical birthing procedures. It is worth just mentioning the situation in America. In the U.S, having your baby is a very expensive business (hospital bills begin at approximately $2,500 and spiral upwards from there....). The Birthing Industry is massive. It is beyond the scope of this website to debate the issue, but it is worth acknowledging that midwifery in the U.S has been subject, essentially to a witch hunt over the last twenty years or so (historically even longer, but then perhaps historically with good reason), and economy is one of the central reasons cited for the efforts to outlaw home births. Hospitals lose business when people have their babies at home. Also, as cynical as it sounds, it costs far more to have a baby by caesarian than vaginally, and women in the U.S have come under increasing pressure to opt for all manner of interventions, when arguably, they were unnecessary. 

Here in the UK the Caesarean rate varies, but it seems to fluctuate between one in four and one in six births depending on the area and hospital....a clear indication that there are other factors at work above and beyond the issue of mere necessity. Chance alone doesn't account for a 33% difference in National rates. One of the main reasons cited for increased C-sections here in the UK is the fear of litigation. Obviously Caesarean Section frequently saves lives and none of us would fault the efficacy of such a life saving procedure when used appropriately. The only question is.....is it always used appropriately? Reports are mixed, and opinion is divided, sometimes strongly. Understandably, those women who have benefited from the C-section procedure are quick to defend it. Few would question a Mothers decision to ensure the safety of her baby when there are complications. But, given the choice, it's fairly clear that an uncomplicated natural vaginal birth is much safer, far more nurturing, and ultimately a more satisfying experience for both Mother and Baby. For more clear unbiased information on Caesarean Sections, and indeed all aspects of Childbirth, please click here for the National Childbirth Trust (a UK registered charity) website.