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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Caesarean births continue to rise
Babies
Midwives believe birth is becoming too 'medical'
More women are giving birth by Caesarean, a new survey suggests.

Caesareans at hospitals in England and Scotland were up 1% on last year, accounting for 22% of all births, according to latest figures from the Times Good Birth Guide.

Figures from Wales and Northern Ireland were even higher at 24% of all births in 2001.

These exceed levels recommended by the World Health Organisation of 10 to15%.

Thirty years ago the rate was just 5%.

The report found strong regional variations in Caesarean rates.

Roger Taylor from the research organisation, Dr Foster, said the results showed a mother's childbirth experience had more to do with where she lived than what she wanted.

"There has been much discussion about the high Caesarean rates in England and The Times Good Birth Guide provides new evidence that this rate is continuing to rise," he said.

"The type of delivery a woman experiences often has less to do with her wishes than where she lives, so it is important to give women a powerful tool for demanding choice in pregnancy."

North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent had the highest Caesarean birth rate in the country at 30%.

The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital had the lowest in the survey at 12%, down 1% on 2000.

The figures were compiled after every maternity unit in the country was asked to complete questionnaires.

While some Caesarean operations can be life-saving, midwives overwhelmingly favour normal vaginal delivery, according to a separate survey.

It has also emerged that midwives believe birth is becoming too medical, with too much intervention and not enough choice being offered to mothers.

An article in the British Journal of Midwifery suggested women should be offered a more pleasant birth experience and midwives should be more responsive to mothers' needs.

See also:

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