Ultimately the whole birth process is about a healthy mother delivering a healthy baby. There are ideals and then there are realities. I am always for a natural, vaginal delivery but in some instances that is simply not possible.
Labour and birth unfold differently for each and every woman, and we can never predict what will actually happen on the ‘day’. There are many ways we can improve our chances of experiencing an empowering birth – whether that birth should be caesarean or vaginal.
The most important thing for all women to realize is that they should make informed choices. They should be involved, educated and research their options. They should be aware that they are ultimately the ones giving birth and as much as possible, that they should make the decisions. They need to be aware of the outcomes from their decisions and be aware that there are alternatives available.
The incidence of caesarian births is alarming. Up until the 1970’s, the caesarean rate worldwide remained low at around 5% and in the 80’s this increased to 20-25% in Western countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a caesarean rate of 15%, which we are currently exceeding (caesarean rates in NSW rose from 24.9 per cent in 2002 to 28.8 per cent in 2006). Caesarean rates worldwide continue to increase year by year and Australia’s caesarean statistics are following this pattern. This increase is multifaceted and complex, but is thought to relate to well intention reasons (improved medical care and technology), defensive practices resulting from fear of litigation, the effects of increasing use of epidurals, labour induction and electronic foetal monitoring and Doctor or patient elective choice.
Ultimately caesarians are an option – and sometimes a required option for medical reasons. There are many risks and problems associated with caesarians for either the woman and/or the baby, as a direct consequence of having the operation. Women (and their partners) should educate themselves as much as possible and encourage a vaginal birth where possible.