It has been confirmed that women will be given the right to choose a Caesarean section birth on the NHS.
The guidelines issued today by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) state that pregnant women can now opt for a C-section, even if they don’t need one medically.
Women requesting a C-section birth will be told of the risks involved and offered counselling, but ultimately the decision to have the operation will fall with them.
This decision is the result of fears expressed by mothers who have experienced ‘traumatic’ natural births at overstretched hospitals with midwife shortages.
However, Malcolm Griffiths, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who helped put together these guidelines, said: “Caesarean section is a major operation, it’s about as major as a hysterectomy.”
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of NCT said: “The updated recommendations on caesarean birth are welcome, as they mean many women can now safely choose a vaginal birth instead of being advised to opt for a surgical operation.
“If caesarean rates go up following the change to the guidelines, it will be evidence that women are not getting the quality of midwifery support they need to instil confidence and feelings of safety while giving birth,” said Phipps.
Currently one in four women give birth by Caesarean, but NICE hopes that these figures will fall if the right advice is given in line with the new guidelines.