According to one study, planned caesarean deliveries pose no greater threat than vaginal deliveries to mother or baby.
NHS doctors tend to only perform the main procedure if it is considered the safest option, as it carries several risks.
But Canadian researchers have now challenged the claims, finding that it may even be better for expectant mothers and their babies.
Scientists at the University of Ottawa flipped through the records of 422,000 births, including 2,000 with expectant mothers opting for a C-section.
They counted how many were admitted to intensive care and compared the death rates between the two groups.
The results showed that women who chose to have a C-section were not at greater risk, hinting that the mothers-to-be and their babies may be even better off.
About 700,000 babies are born in the UK every year, a quarter of which are from Caesarean sections. The procedure is a similar part of births in the US.
C-section women and their babies are not more likely to have poor results compared to those who opt for vaginal delivery (stock)
WHAT IS CDMR?
Some expectant mothers request a caesarean section before giving birth.
Doctors call this a cesarean section at the request of the mother, or CDMR.
The benefits of a vaginal delivery are well known, including the need to recover from surgery, reduced risk of scarring, and an improved microbiome for the baby.
But some women still ask for the procedure because of concerns about childbirth, the perception that care will be better, or the fear of urinating or sexual problems.
The NHS says a C-section can be performed for non-medical reasons once the risks have been explained by a doctor or midwife.
“ If, after discussing all the risks and hearing all of the support provided, you still feel that a vaginal delivery is not an acceptable option, you should be offered a scheduled Caesarean section, ” they write online.
“If your doctor doesn’t want to perform the surgery, he should refer you to a doctor who will.”
There are approximately 700,000 births in the UK every year, of which more than 100,000 are Caesarean section. In the US there are 3.75 million annually, of which 1.25 million are C-sections.
It is not clear how many caesarean sections there are at the request of a mother.
NHS guidelines state that the usual procedure is “very safe,” but comes with standard surgical risks, such as blood clots and infections.
C-sections are normally performed for medical reasons, including babies in the wrong position, or the mother suffering from pre-eclampsia.
For this reason, it is difficult to compare different birth methods, as the women are already at higher risk.
Numerous women, often referred to as ‘too push to push’, choose to go under the knife for non-medical reasons.
Experts say mothers-to-be may opt for Caesarean section because of the perception that they will receive better care, improving outcomes for both themselves and their baby.
This is despite the fact that the benefits of vaginal delivery are well known, such as no need to recover from surgery and an improved microbiome for the baby.
Researchers led by Dr. Yanfang Guo, who is also part of the Ottawa Hospital Research Group, checked official birth certificates in Ontario, Canada, for the seven years to 2018.
The team noted the number of vaginal births and ‘cesarean section at the request of the mother’ (CDMR).
Among the expectant mothers, they checked how many tears suffered in the rectum or uterus, or needed unexpected surgery or blood transfusions.
And among their babies, they checked for adverse events such as trauma, death, and heart rate problems.
There were 18,336 (4.4 percent) side effects among pregnant women who opted for vaginal delivery, compared with 37 (2 percent) among those who had C-sections.
For babies delivered through the vagina, there were 17,899 (4.3 percent) side effects, while in the C-section group there were 34 (1.9 percent).
The results suggested that women with a C-section were 50 percent less likely to have bad results.
But academics cautioned that more research was needed, as this figure was based on a very small sample size.
They also found that those who opted for vaginal delivery were generally older and wealthier, in contrast to the characterization of women who opted for a CDMR.
“This analysis shows that planned CDMR is safe for low-risk pregnancies and may be associated with a lower risk of adverse delivery outcomes compared to vaginal deliveries,” said scientists.
“While our study addresses concerns regarding the immediate implications of planned CDMR, research into longer-term risks is needed, including its impact on breastfeeding and the infant’s risk of infection and respiratory disease.”
They added: “ Women may prefer CDMR for many reasons, including ease of scheduling, fear of pain during delivery, perception that the quality of obstetric care is better for cesarean women, and concerns about possible urinary incontinence and sexual intercourse. dysfunction after vaginal delivery. . ‘
The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
WHAT ARE THE MEDICAL REASONS FOR AN AC SECTION?
There are several reasons why a doctor may recommend that you undergo a caesarean section instead of giving birth vaginally.
If you have had complications during a previous pregnancy or delivery, or during your current pregnancy, you may be advised to have a so-called planned or elective caesarean section, or a planned repeat caesarean section.
If you were planning to give birth vaginally, but complications during labor or delivery mean that you are advised to give birth by caesarean section, then you will be given what is called an unplanned caesarean section or an emergency caesarean section.
Here are some reasons why doctors may opt for a scheduled cesarean section or a cesarean section instead of a vaginal delivery:
- You have already had at least one caesarean section;
- Your baby is in an upside down or breech position;
- Your baby is in a sideways (transverse) position, or keeps changing position (unstable position);
- You have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
- You have a medical condition, such as heart disease or diabetes;
- You have lost a baby in the past, before or during delivery;
- You are expecting twins or more;
- Your baby is not growing in your womb as well as it should;
- You have severe pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, which makes it dangerous to delay delivery.