Any pregnant woman can now ‘demand’ a caesarean section regardless of medical need, much of the media has reported. Many of the reports focused on mothers who fear birth trauma now having the right to request a caesarean.
The reports are based on new full guidance on caesarean sections from the National Institute for Health Clinical Excellence (NICE) (PDF, 228kb). NICE says this guidance may actually reduce the proportion of caesareans because new guidelines insist women should be given better advice about their options at childbirth. Currently around one in four UK babies is delivered by caesarean.
Some papers have linked NICE’s recommendations to a shortage of midwives. These reports are based on a claim by the Royal College of Midwives, in September, that an extra 4,700 midwives are needed because of the increased number of births (up 22% between 2001 and 2010).
Today’s news follows hot on the heels of stories in The Sun and the Daily Mail from October 31, which were based on a draft copy of the guidelines. The full guidelines have changed little from this draft version.
For more information, read the Behind the Headlines review of the earlier reports on the draft NICE guidance on caesareans.