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RCM concern at Caesarean birth rate

A quarter of babies are born by Caesarean section, figures show.

The latest maternity figures reveal that 25% of mothers in England had a caesarean - a slight increase from the previous year, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Older mothers were more inclined to have an elective C section - with 18% over the age of 35 opting not to give birth naturally.

One in 10 mothers aged 25 to 34 had the elective surgery and 5% of those under 25 gave birth by caesarean, according to the hospital data from 2011 and 2012.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) raised concerns about the figures.

Louise Silverton, the RCM’s director for midwifery, said: “That means that one in four women giving birth is having a caesarean, which is a major surgical procedure.

“There has also been a rise in the number of elective caesareans while the number of emergency caesareans has remained stable. Questions must be asked as to what the driver is behind this increase in elective surgery.

“An increase in caesarean rates and instrumental deliveries often reflects a decrease in involvement with midwives, and this concerns me.”

The data also shows that more older women and less teenagers are having babies.

The rate of teen mothers giving birth in English hospitals has fallen by a fifth in five years.

In 2011/12, 33,600 mums aged 13 to 19 gave birth in NHS hospitals - a 22% fall on the number recorded in 2006/07.

The number of mothers aged 40 to 49 increased by 16% in the same timeframe, from 22,200 to 25,600.

Ms Silverton added: “This data also shows that the age profile of pregnant women is getting older.

“The baby boom, combined with the increasing age of mothers, means greater demands on maternity services, as pregnancies for older women can give rise to increased complications and a need for medical interventions, which demands more of midwives and others in the maternity team.

“As we are in the midst of a baby boom, these factors together with the increasing social complexity of care needs for all mothers have a dramatic effect on the workload heaped on already overstretched midwives.”

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan added: “While the number of hospital deliveries in England has broadly risen - albeit relatively slowly - in recent years, almost 10,000 fewer hospital deliveries last year were to teen mums compared to five years previously.

“This drop in hospital teen deliveries has occurred in all regions of the country, although the North East still has the highest rate of deliveries among 13 to 19-year-olds according to its population size. In contrast, Londoners have the lowest rate for teen mums, but the highest rate for older mothers.”

 

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