Caesarean sections will be available to pregnant women on the NHS regardless of whether there is a medical need for the procedure, a new report has revealed.
Until now, the operation was only open to women who had a medical reason why they should not give birth naturally, but this is all set to change according to a draft report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The reason for the change is that the procedure is now much safer than it used to be years ago, meaning healthy women can opt to undergo the operation.
The move has been supported by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which has welcomed a thorough discussion of the evidence on the different ways to give birth and the risks and implications associated with them.
General secretary of the RCM, Cathy Warwick, said: “We are pleased to see the focus on a good discussion of the evidence that includes the risks of caesarean section and the implication for future pregnancies and we are confident that when women are fully aware of the evidence they will not be asking for inappropriate caesarean sections.
“We agree with the NICE suggestion that ‘if after proper counselling’ a ‘vaginal birth is still not acceptable’ then the option of caesarean section should still be possible.
“Women who fit into this category are usually women who have had a very difficult previous birth.
“We are pleased to see the recommendation for women who have such anxiety about birth ‘be referred to a health professional with expertise in providing perinatal mental health support’.
“We know that when such individualised support is offered in consultant midwives’ clinics, these anxieties can be allayed for many women.
“The RCM is concerned that the complexity of this discussion and decision making should not be underestimated.”