women want natural childbirth, women prefer vaginal birth over C-section

Pregnant Women Say Natural Childbirth Worth Some Risks

August 28, 2008 06:00 AM
by Cara McDonough
Women in a new study were more willing than their doctors to face risks to have a vaginal birth, indicating that natural childbirth is important to many expectant mothers.

Differences of Opinion

In the study, the latest in the ever-changing world of birth trends, researchers asked 102 pregnant women and 341 midwives, obstetricians and other doctors at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia about situations that would prompt them to choose a Caesarean section over a vaginal delivery.

The new findings represent the first published study to compare women’s and doctors’ views on the issue, reports Irish Health.

The BBC reports that the group was asked about a range of issues, including “mild complications such as a prolonged birth and superficial tears to severe problems such as anal and urinary incontinence, vaginal prolapse and severe tearing.” In nearly all of the cases, the pregnant women were more willing to deal with complications in order to have natural birth than their doctors or midwives.

In addition to indicating that having a vaginal delivery is important to many women, the findings “may also indicate that doctors are biased by their inevitable involvement in complex cases, or labours where things have gone wrong,” said Professor Philip Steer, editor of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which published the study.

Steer also pointed out that, beyond the preferences of patients and doctors, childbirth is an unpredictable process “and therefore any birth plan should be flexible enough to allow for unexpected complications.”

Related Topic: Rising popularity of C-sections, home births

Despite the findings among Australian women, C-sections are on the rise worldwide, and many women are reportedly requesting the operations voluntarily. The operations are becoming especially popular in developing countries, where medical technology is improving.
Brazil tops the charts, where 44 percent of all births in 2006 were C-sections. Some believe doctors are encouraging the operations, while other say patient requests are the reason for the rise. As the World Health Organization recommends that the procedure be used for only about 15 percent of live births, the country is launching campaigns to encourage women to experience natural childbirth.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, home births are reportedly making a comeback in the United States. Time magazine reports that while home births only account for 1 percent of U.S. births, “there’s a movement afoot to license more lay midwives to attend home births.”

Some women believe giving birth at home with the help of a midwife, and without medical interventions, such as labor induction or epidurals, is the best way to experience a truly joyful birth.

The American Medical Association is fighting the trend, however, and is backing legislation proposed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that stresses the dangers of home births.

On its Web site, the ACOG states that “Unless a woman is in a hospital, an accredited freestanding birthing center, or a birthing center within a hospital complex, with physicians ready to intervene quickly if necessary, she puts herself and her baby’s health and life at unnecessary risk.”

Many worry that the legislation could lead to making home births illegal. The American College of Nurse-Midwives also released a statement defending home births in response to the legislation, citing a British Medical Journal study indicating that hospital and home births are equally as safe.

Reference: C-sections and pregnancy


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