Fear of natural birth driving one in three mothers to caesareans

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

Many well-off mothers-to-be think natural childbirth is undignified and distasteful, and want a caesarean for comfort and safety ...

But they're not just too posh to push, they're also petrified.

According to a survey of 210 women published in Midwifery journal, researchers found there was a "distrust of the body's ability to undertake labour and safely birth a baby" - despite evidence that shows caesareans are more risky for both mother and baby.

One in three Australian women now has a caesarean, with research showing the escalation has been driven largely by the mother's request.

International surveys show between 6 and 15 per cent of pregnant women would prefer to have a caesarean.

In the Midwifery article, researchers questioned 14 of the 210 women at length and found they were concerned about the the "loss of dignity" of childbirth, were "mortified" about giving birth and wanted a "perfectly shaped baby".

The women, who were mostly upper-income professionals with private obstetricians, also wanted a "perfectly orchestrated birth" which was "comfortable" and had a "high level of support".

Dr Guy Skinner, obstetrician at Epworth Freemasons, said some women asked for elective caesareans because of negative experiences, such as sexual assault, or through concern for their pelvic floor muscles.

... Dr Skinner said one-third of women were "talked out of it" and he did not support the provision of caesarean on demand.

... "If you dig down there's usually a significant pathology, and you have to address that rather than just agree to a caesar," she said.

Fear is a powerful motivator of birth decisions. Unfortunately, it's not a useful motivator as we tend to attract that which we fear the most. A more useful approach is to gently explore the issues causing fear, engage the services of a private midwife who will provide continutiy of care for hospital birth or home birth, and be open to surrendering to birth. This can be done with thorough mental and emotional preparation for birth with a midwife, Calmbirth classes and good information on birth and its options.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448