Your health:

Birth choice questions

Laura Johnson
It was to have been a drive to reduce Britain's growing rate of caesarean operations - but it's now achieved the opposite.

Whatever the guidelines say, the headlines say that women can now "opt" for a caesarean. Already one in five births are by this route - and it has led to allegations that some celebs are "too posh to push".

Why on earth anyone would want to have their stomach sliced and scarred unnecessarily, I don't know.

Here's the official story. The announcement yesterday was a little low-key. And it's all a bit of a mystery as to what has forced an apparent u-turn.

Women who want a caesarean section to give birth on the NHS will get one - but it will not be a "no questions asked" procedure.

Under the proposals, agreed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, women who say they want to choose a caesarean should be asked for their reasons and given full information about risks and benefits.

They should also get a full chance to discuss the matter with doctors and midwives caring for them, the NICE  guidance says.

Initially NICE wanted all these women to be offered counselling - but now this will only be offered to those who suffer from tokophobia - fear of childbirth.

Dr Gillian Leng, of NICE, said: "Offering these women a planned caesarean section in these circumstances is a very long way from saying that caesarean section should automatically be offered to every woman.”

Obstetrician Malcolm Griffiths, from Luton, Bedfordshire, said: "Caesarean section is major surgery which most pregnant women want to avoid if they can. We want women who do not need to have a CS to be able to avoid such surgery."

Midwife Nina Khazaezadeh, from St Thomas' Hospital, London, said: "The importance of good communication between pregnant women, their families and their health professionals is a key aspect of the new guideline. In particular, it highlights the importance of providing accurate information about the relative risks and benefits of caesarean section and vaginal birth."

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