HEALTH chiefs are aiming to slash the number of mothers giving birth by caesarean section and encourage more home births in Poole and Bournemouth.
The area has the highest rates of births by caesarean section in the south west, including the worst emergency rates – two per cent higher than the next primary care trust.
In Bournemouth and Poole, 11 per cent of mothers choose to have their babies by C-section, compared to eight per cent in the three best performing primary care trusts in the region, and seven per cent in Southampton.
NHS Bournemouth and Poole is working with maternity services to try and normalise the local pattern of births.
A spokeswoman explained: “We are concerned with the increase in planned and unplanned caesarean section rates because these procedures can present more risk to mother and baby.
“Women who have had a normal birth can return home more quickly to their family and their recovery is quicker.
“With appropriate care and support the majority of healthy women can give birth with a minimum of medical procedures and most women prefer to avoid interventions, provided their baby is safe and they feel supported.”
A spokeswoman for Poole Hospital’s maternity unit, the centre for high risk births in East Dorset, said: “The majority of caesarean sections are undertaken only where there is a clear clinical reason to do so – for example, if babies become distressed during labour, or for the safe delivery of breech babies or twins.
“However, we are working closely with NHS Bournemouth and Poole to reduce the number we carry out.”
The trust plans to recruit more midwives and use experienced obstetricians to increase the number of breech babies born normally.
Extra ante-natal clinics will be introduced to help women have a normal birth after previously having a caesarean, and the hospital will stop providing caesarean sections by choice instead of medical need.”
The hospital already has birthing pools and has just launched an on-call service to support women who choose home births.