03 January 2009

Choices in childbirth more complex in 2009

Welcome to 2009. What better way to celebrate the new year then to see new statistics from NSW that show a huge disparity between childbirth intervention rates in private and public hospitals. According to recent reports, here are some humbling statistics:

  • the caesarean rate is hovering close to 40% in private NSW hospitals
  • between 1/4 and 1/3 of women in private hospitals have an episiotomy compared to only 10 % in public hospitals
  • forceps and vacuum deliveries comprise nearly 15% of all private hospital births
  • in one NSW private hospital, only 4% of women go without any pain relief
Whereas American private hospitals have long been the 'bad guy' when it comes to intervention in childbirth (nearly 50% of women in some New York hospitals are induced), it looks like Australia's private health system is increasingly putting some women in danger of being subject to a similar cascade of intervention as the age of childbirth increases, more women are requesting elective caesareans and more middle-aged women have private health insurance and are increasingly concerned about any 'risk' to the health of their foetuses.

Although there are not any easy solutions to such a complex issue, particular when it comes to the role of choice and power in hospitals, it seems that some things can be addressed quite easily. For instance, midwives often encourage women to give birth standing up or in other positions that progress labour more quickly and effectively. When women have epidurals, standing is not possible.

Any Aussies out there who feel they were forced to 'choose' intervention during birth?

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/the-painful-truth-about-childbirth/2009/01/02/1230681748836.html

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