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Abstract

Caesarean section at maternal request remains a contentious issue, fuelled by reports of associated morbidity. To explore the motivations behind women’s expression of preference for a planned caesarean birth, an internet survey was conducted using semi-structured questionnaires available via a UK-based international website, www.electivecesarean.com, over a 9-month period. A convenience sample of 359 pregnant women who stated that their preferred delivery method was ‘elective caesarean section through my own choice’ was included. Data were analyzed descriptively and thematically. Women from 16 countries were included. Two main themes were identified: 1) anti-vaginal birth; and 2) physical and psychological validation. Women who were anti-vaginal birth had a fear of morbidity (maternal and neonatal) and of the birth experience. They viewed vaginal birth as unpredictable and saw planned caesarean birth as a safer alternative. Some women justified their decision of birth mode by referring to either a physical or psychological issue that related to a previous birth or an existing medical complication. Respondents had similar views regardless of country of residence. We concluded that women have multiple reasons for wanting a caesarean birth. These reasons are usually considered, and motivated by a genuine desire to avoid the potential problems of vaginal birth. Individualized birth consultations should include discussion of the risks and benefits of vaginal and caesarean birth as they relate to individual women.

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... A total of 28 studies (19 quantitative and 9 qualitative) identified fear of pain as a primary reason for, or factor associated with, a CS preference. A total of 19 quantitative studies, from both high and middle-income countries, identified fear of pain as important 45,48,49,51,54,55,58,[66][67][68]73,75,77,79,80,83,85,86,89 , although the extent to which a CS preference was related to fear of pain varied between studies and countries. A study with nulliparous university students across eight high-income countries (N = 3616) found that 77.8% of participants were worried about childbirth pain, 77 while an Australian study with pregnant women who wanted a CSMR in a private hospital setting found that only 11.5% identified fear of pain a key reason (N = 78). ...
... Ten quantitative studies from high-income countries identified a CS preference as associated with a previously negative birth experience, including a previous CS. 46,51,52,59,62,65,73,79,80,83 For example, a large Norwegian study including 58,881 pregnant women found that the odds for preferring CS were 6 times greater among women with a previous CS and 3-6 times greater among women with a previous negative birth experiences. 79 A German study found that women who preferred a VB were much more likely to describe their previous birth experience as positive than those who preferred a CSMR (1.7% and 52.0% ...
... 88,53,55,58,61,67,69,73 all highlighted perceptions of safety as key reason for preferring or requesting a CS. For example, a study from the US (N = 833 pregnant women) found that ...
Article
Background: The optimal caesarean section rate is estimated to be between 10-15%; however, it is much higher in high and many middle-income countries and continues to be lower in some middle and low-income countries. While a range of factors influence caesarean section rates, women's mode of birth preferences also play a role. The aim of this study was to map the literature in relation to women's mode of birth preferences, and identify underlying reasons for, and factors associated with, these preferences. Method: Using a scoping review methodology, quantitative and qualitative evidence was systematically considered. To identify studies, PubMed, Maternity and Infant Care, MEDLINE, and Web of Science were searched for the period from 2008 to 2018, and reference lists of included studies were examined. Findings: A total of 65 studies were included. While the majority of women prefer a vaginal birth, between 5-20% in high-income countries and 1.4 to 50% in low-middle-income countries prefer a caesarean section. The six main reasons or factors associated with a mode of birth preference were: (1) perceptions of safety; (2) fear of pain; (3) previous birth experience; (4) encouragement and dissuasion from health professionals; (5) social and cultural influences; and (6) access to information and educational levels. Conclusion: To help ensure women receive the required care that is aligned with their preferences, processes of shared decision-making should be implemented. Shared decision-making has the potential to reduce the rate of unnecessary interventions, and also improve the willingness of women to accept a medically-indicated caesarean section in low-income countries.
... 31 Only two studies reported ethnicity, where the significant majority of women were Caucasian (85% and 97%, respectively). 18,37 Six studies enrolled only primipara, [24][25][26][27][28]35 four enrolled only multipara, 33,34,36,37,39 while six included primipara and multipara. 23, [28][29][30]32,37 Eleven studies included the views of pregnant women in their third trimester (weeks 29-40), with two including women from week 20 and 26. ...
... 18,37 Six studies enrolled only primipara, [24][25][26][27][28]35 four enrolled only multipara, 33,34,36,37,39 while six included primipara and multipara. 23, [28][29][30]32,37 Eleven studies included the views of pregnant women in their third trimester (weeks 29-40), with two including women from week 20 and 26. 34,35 Eight studies collected data on women's relationship status. ...
... Of these, 13 were semi-structured based on an interview guide, [24][25][26][27][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]38 and one used unstructured interviews, whereby interviews began with a general question, followed by specific questions. 23 Two studies did not use interviews, but rather a written questionnaire 28 and an open-ended written survey. 36 Most studies (n = 12) analyzed the data thematically. ...
Article
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Background: Cesarean rates have increased significantly over the past decade. The reasons for this are both complex and context specific, and have significant consequences for health resources. The aim of this systematic review was to assess published, peer-reviewed, and gray qualitative literature on the reasons behind cesarean delivery on maternal request (CDMR). Methods: A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, and PsycINFO databases was performed for all relevant articles published between January 2006 and June 2016. Reference lists of all included studies were also searched in addition to select web-based sources. Studies were included if they qualitatively evaluated women's preferences for CDMR, with no geographic restriction. Findings from the studies were narratively and thematically synthesized. Results: Sixteen studies were included in this review. Three themes were identified as to why women choose CDMR, which were: social norms, emotional experiences, and personal experiences. A woman's decision was often shaped by various influences including family, friends, and the media. In addition, previous experience of childbirth and interactions with health care professionals contributed to a strong preference for CDMR. CDMR provided women with a sense of control over the birth and diminished feelings of fear. Conclusions: The reasons behind CDMR are multifactorial and complex. Situation-specific cultural factors, fear of pain during childbirth, previous experience, and interactions with health care professionals are likely to have led to the increase in CDMR. Multifaceted, context-specific approaches are required if there is to be a reduction in CDMR rates.
... The concern regarding possible damages from vaginal birth enables CS to be viewed as a preventive measure against adverse outcomes for both women and babies. [69][70][71] In contrast, this false sense of security may be attributed to the lack of understanding that many CS-related complications are only observed at a later stage and that society is unable to correlate them to CS. For example, CS increases the risk of placenta accreta spectrum, abruptio placentae, placenta previa, and pelvic adhesions among women. ...
Article
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Brazil has a high rate of cesarean sections (CS) that cannot be solely justified by women's clinical conditions; thus, other causes, for example, CS on maternal request and physicians' fear of litigation as possible influencing factors, cannot be overlooked.This study aimed to identify through a survey whether Brazilian gynecologists and obstetricians (GOs) perform defensive CS.In this cross-sectional, descriptive study, a questionnaire was administered. The target population comprised of GOs who were members of premier Brazilian professional associations of gynecology and obstetrics. A total of 403 GOs participated in the survey using an obstetrics questionnaire about litigation and defensive medicine (DM). Statistical analyses were performed on pairs of variables to determine the risk factors of performing CS due to concerns of complications during vaginal delivery and to avoid lawsuits.The mean age of the GOs was 47.7 years who were mostly female (58.3%) and having worked professionally in both public and private sectors (71.7%). Of all participants, 80.6% had been sued or knew an obstetrician who had been sued. The obstetricians who had been sued or who knew a colleague that had been sued exhibited a significantly higher likelihood of performing defensive CS than physicians who had not been sued or did not know physicians who had been sued. The perception of a higher risk of lawsuits against obstetricians influenced the practice of DM and led to a more than six-fold increase in CSs in specialists with this perception compared to specialists who did not believe the presence of an increased risk of litigation in obstetrics existed.The majority of Brazilian GOs perform defensive CS. It is important to consider DM as one of the causes of high CS rates in Brazil and include it in the development of public policies to reduce these CS rates.
... McDonagh Hull, P. , Bedwell, C. , & Lavender, T. (2011). Why do some women prefer birth by caesarean? ...
Article
Midwives have become more popular in recent years, and a rising percentage of women have been choosing midwives over doctors. Originally midwives were mostly used by minority women, but now more caucasian women are finding midwives to be a natural and preferable way to give birth. Due to this change in trend, midwives are becoming more accepted in society. This paper examines and defines the reasons behind the changing trends of midwifery in the United States. Specifically, if this changing trend has to deal with interventions, such as pitocin or cesarean sections, by doctors to speed up the delivery process. In 1900, ninety-five percent of births took place at home, in 1930 only half of births took place at home, and by 1955 less than one percent of births took place at home (Lake & Epstein, 2008). Now the trend seems to be changing, in 2009 eight percent of midwives attended births (MacDorman et al., 2012). In 1990, there was a high number of minority women that were attended by certified nurse midwives. In 2009, the numbers changed and evened out suggesting that more white women were using midwives (Declercq, 2012). From reviewing the literature and documentaries on midwifery and hospital births, there is a pattern shown throughout history that portrays social class, status, and ethnicity determining what is popular in birth.
Article
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Article
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This is a protocol for a Cochrane Review (Intervention). The objectives are as follows: The primary objective of this review is to investigate the effectiveness of non‐pharmacological interventions on reducing fear of childbirth (FOC) compared with standard maternity care in pregnant women with FOC.
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to describe the prevalence of women's preference for caesarean section as expressed in mid pregnancy, late pregnancy and one year post partum. An additional aim was to identify associated factors and investigate reasons for the preference. mixed methods. Data were collected from 2007 to 2008 through questionnaires distributed to a Swedish regional cohort of women. The survey was part of a longitudinal study of women's attitudes and beliefs related to childbirth. One open question regarding the reasons for the preferred mode of birth was analysed using content analysis. three hospitals in the county of Västernorrland in the middle of Sweden. 1506 women were recruited at the routine ultrasound screening during weeks 17 to 19 of their pregnancy. a preference for caesarean section was stated by 7.6% of women during mid pregnancy and by 7.0% in late pregnancy. One year post partum 9.8% of the women stated that they would prefer a caesarean section if they were to have another baby. This was related to their birth experience. There were more multiparous women who wished for a caesarean section. Associated factors irrespective of parity were fear of giving birth and a 'strongly disagree' response to the statement regarding that the preferred birth should be as natural as possible. Among multiparous women the strongest predictors were previous caesarean sections, particularly those that were elective, and a previous negative birth experience. Women's comments on their preferred mode of birth revealed five categories: women described caesarean section as their only option relating to obstetrical and/or medical factors; several women stated ambivalent feelings and almost as many described their previous birthing experiences as a reason to prefer a caesarean birth; childbirth-related fear and caesarean section as a safe option were the remaining categories. rising caesarean section rates seem to be related to factors other than women's preferences. Ambivalence towards a way of giving birth is common during pregnancy. This should be of concern for midwives and obstetricians during antenatal care. Information and counselling should be frequent and comprehensive when a discussion on caesarean section is initiated by the pregnant woman. A negative birth experience is related to a future preference for caesarean section and this should be considered by caregivers providing intrapartum care.
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Patient-initiated elective cesarean delivery is emerging as an urgent issue for practitioners, hospitals, and policy makers and for pregnant women. This exploratory qualitative study looks at the birth stories and cultural knowledge that women use to inform the decision about an elective cesarean without medical indication. Data collection consisted of exploratory qualitative in-depth interviews with 17 primiparous women in British Columbia, Canada. Interviews revealed the influence of socially circulated birth stories and cultural narratives on their attitudes towards mode of delivery. Participants included in their decision making process both medical information and informal birth stories that were technologically inclined and confirmed their preference for cesarean delivery. Results indicate that women who participated in this study drew heavily from social and cultural knowledge in forming their decision to give birth by patient-initiated elective cesarean delivery. Although the numbers of women who request a cesarean delivery for social reasons is still small, the persuasive influence on parturient women of positive cesarean stories and negative vaginal stories must be considered. Care providers and childbirth educators need to become familiar with the social influences impacting women's decisions for mode of delivery so that truly informed choice discussions can be undertaken.
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Article
To investigate Swedish women's level of antenatal fear of childbirth at various gestational ages, and factors associated with intense fear and with preference for cesarean section. A cross-sectional study. All antenatal clinics in four geographical areas. Thousand six hundred and thirty-five pregnant women at various gestational ages recruited during September-October 2006. A questionnaire completed at the antenatal clinic. The women reported their appraisal of the approaching delivery according to the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire (W-DEQ). The level of fear of childbirth and preferred mode of delivery. Mean W-DEQ score was 62.8. The prevalence of intense fear of childbirth (W-DEQ score > or =85) was 15.8% and very intense fear (tocophobia) (W-DEQ score > or =100) 5.7%. Nulliparous women had a higher mean score than parous women, but more parous women reported an intense fear. Preference for cesarean section was associated with fear of childbirth (OR 11.79, 6.1-22.59 for nulliparous and OR 8.32, 4.36-15.85 for parous women) and for parous women also with a previous cesarean section (OR 18.54, 9.55-35.97), or an instrumental vaginal delivery (OR 2.34, 1.02-5.34). The level of fear of childbirth was not associated with the gestational age. When a woman requests a cesarean section, both primary fear of birth and traumatic childbirth experiences need to be considered and dealt with. The W-DEQ can be used at any time during pregnancy in order to identify pregnant women who suffer from intense fear of childbirth.
Article
To explore whether women view decision-making surrounding vaginal or caesarean birth as their choice. Longitudinal cohort study utilising quantitative (questionnaire, routinely collected data) and qualitative (in-depth interviews) methods simultaneously. A large hospital providing National Health Service maternity care in the UK. Four-hundred and fifty-four primigravid women. Women completed up to three questionnaires between their antenatal booking appointment and delivery. Amongst these women, 153 were interviewed at least once during pregnancy (between 24 and 36 weeks) and/or after 12 moths after birth. Data were also obtained from women's hospital delivery records. Descriptive statistical analysis was performed (survey and delivery data). Interview data were analysed using a seven-stage sequential form of qualitative analysis. Whilst many women supported the principle of choice, they identified how, in practice their autonomy was limited by individual circumstance and available care provision. All women felt that concerns about their baby's or their own health should take precedence over personal preference. Moreover, expressing a preference for either vaginal or caesarean birth was inherently problematic as choice until the time of delivery was neither static nor final. Women did not have autonomous choice over their actual birth method, but neither did they necessarily want it. The results of this large exploratory study suggest that choice may not be the best concept through which to approach the current arrangements for birth in the UK. Moreover, they challenge the notion of choice that currently prevails in international debates about caesarean delivery for maternal request.
Article
The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics of pregnant women who wish to have a caesarean section. Data were collected as part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Pregnant women booked for antenatal care in Norway between 1999 and 2006 were invited to participate in the study. Data on women's interest in mode of delivery and a set of associated variables were gathered from a questionnaire completed by 55,859 women at 30 weeks of pregnancy. A wish for caesarean section was expressed by 10% of the women, and 33% thought that the woman herself should be allowed to decide whether to have a caesarean section or not. A negative experience from a previous labour, a second birth, an age>35, a low level of education, being single, being unemployed, having an assisted conception, expecting more than one foetus, experiencing urinary and bowel incontinence before current pregnancy, experiencing pelvic pain, having a fear of childbirth and reporting negative intra-psychic phenomena were significantly associated with a wish for caesarean section. At 30 weeks of pregnancy, one out of 10 women in a sample of Norwegian women would choose a caesarean section. Negative experiences from previous pregnancies and fear of giving birth are two of the strongest factors associated with a wish for a caesarean section and should be taken into consideration.
Article
There is an extensive literature concerning caesarean section at maternal request, where no obstetric indication exists, yet little information about what motivates women to request such a delivery. This paper aims to ask women who had undergone maternal-request primary elective caesarean delivery about the reasons for their choice, their level of satisfaction with the delivery and their future childbearing plans. Anonymous postal survey of women who have undergone maternal-request primary caesarean section in private maternity hospitals in the eastern states of Australia. The response rate was 68%, and 78 completed surveys were included in the study. The most common reason given was, 'I was concerned about risks to the baby' (46%). On a scale from 1 (totally unsatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied), the mean satisfaction rating reported was 9.25/10 (95% confidence interval: 8.89, 9.60). Only eight respondents (10%) stated an intention for more than two caesarean deliveries. Women who underwent maternal-request caesarean delivery most commonly did so from concerns for the baby. Respondents were highly satisfied with their delivery, and few wished for more than two children.
Article
Extreme fear of delivery with request of cesarean section is a problem. The obstetric outcome in women given psychological and obstetric support is described. Women, consecutively referred to the Psychosomatic outpatient clinic because of fear of delivery (n = 100), were compared to a matched reference group (n = 100). The women in the study group had higher frequency of psychic problems than the references. The majority, 68 of the women (68%) initially requested cesarean section (CS). After individualized psychological and obstetrical support, 38 of these women agreed to vaginal delivery (38%) and 30 had an elective CS (30%). In the end another 13 (13%) women had a CS for obstetric or mixed reasons. Complication rate was low and similar in the groups. The 57 women who eventually had a vaginal delivery (57%) showed an obstetric outcome similar to the reference group. They had a higher frequency of induction of labor (p = 0.02). and of epidural and pudendal blocks for pain relief (p = 0.002 and 0.05 respectively). They had shorter labor time (p = 0.05). The cost of the psychological therapy was well compensated for by the savings due to the reduction in the number of CS. Psychosomatic support for women with severe fear of delivery resulted in a 50% reduction of CS for psychosocial indications and vaginal deliveries similar to a reference group. The cost of psychosomatic support was less than savings due to fewer cesarean sections.
Article
The consistently high cesarean section rate in most developed Western countries has been attributed in part to maternal request. This controversial view demands critical analysis. This paper provides a critique of published research relating to women's request for cesarean delivery. A search of the major databases was undertaken using the search term "cesarean section" with "maternal request," "decision-making," "patient-participation," "decision-making-patient," "patient-satisfaction," "patient-preference," and "maternal-choice." Ten research articles examining women's preferred mode of birth were retrieved, nine of which focused on women's preference for cesarean delivery. The methodology of some studies may result in overreporting women's request for a cesarean delivery. The role of the woman's caregiver in the generation, collection, and entry of data, and the occurrence of post hoc rationalization, recall bias, and women's tendency to be less critical of their care immediately after birth are possible areas of concern. Due consideration is rarely given to the influence of obstetric risk for women who may be requesting a cesarean section or to the information women used in making their decision. Women's perceptions of their involvement in decision-making regarding cesarean section are used to draw conclusions regarding women's request. Few women request a cesarean section in the absence of current or previous obstetric complications. The focus on women's request for cesarean section may divert attention away from physician-led influences on the continuing high cesarean section rates.
Article
Each society has its own consensual understanding of birth and its determinants: caregivers, location, participants and loci of decision-making, which in the Western world are based on biomedical knowledge. However, two competing cultural models of childbirth, the biomedical/technocratic model and natural/holistic model, mediate women's choices and preferences for the place and caregiver in childbirth. This article explores the way in which these cultural models of birth and the existing practical possibilities for choices shape women's and men's understanding of home birth. Based on interviews with 21 Finnish women and 12 Finnish men, the reasons for and experiences of planning and building toward a home birth are examined through an analysis of birth narratives. The analysis focuses especially on the women's definitions of what is 'natural' and their relationship with health services where biomedical practices and knowledge are the norm. The analysis shows that the notion of 'natural birth' holds various meanings in Finnish women's narratives namely self-determination, control, and trust in one's intuition. I seek to demonstrate that just as the biomedical management of childbirth exhibits distinct cross-cultural variation, so also does resistance to biomedical hegemony, as such resistance is strongly embedded in the local socio-cultural situation.
Article
To compare intensive and conventional therapy for severe fear of childbirth. In Finland, 176 women who had fear of childbirth were randomly assigned at the 26th gestational week to have either intensive therapy (mean 3.8 +/- 1.0 sessions with obstetrician and one with midwife) or conventional therapy (mean 2.0 +/- 0.6 sessions), with follow-up 3 months postpartum. Pregnancy-related anxiety and concerns, satisfaction with childbirth, and puerperal depression were assessed with specific questionnaires. Power analysis, based on previous studies, showed that 74 women per group were necessary to show a 50% reduction in cesarean rates. Birth-related concerns decreased in the intensive therapy group but increased in the conventional therapy group (linear interaction between the group and birth-concerns P =.022). Labor was shorter in the intensive therapy group (mean +/- standard deviation 6.8 +/- 3.8 hours) compared with the conventional group (8.5 +/- 4.8 hours, P =.039). After intervention, 62% of those originally requesting a cesarean (n = 117) chose to deliver vaginally, equally in both groups. Cesarean was more frequent for those who refused to fill in the questionnaires than for those who completed them (57% compared with 27%, P =.001). In the log-linear model, parous women who had conventional therapy and refused to fill in the questionnaires chose a cesarean more often than expected (standardized residual 2.54, P =.011). There were no differences between groups in satisfaction with childbirth or in puerperal depression. Both kinds of therapy reduced unnecessary cesareans, more so in nulliparous and well-motivated women. With intensive therapy, pregnancy- and birth-related anxiety and concerns were reduced, and labors were shorter.
Article
It has traditionally been considered inappropriate for women to have an elective caesarean section on request in an uncomplicated pregnancy. In previous studies, female obstetricians and midwives have been questioned on their preferred mode of delivery. This study asked 344 women attending a routine antenatal booking clinic what mode of delivery they would prefer in an uncomplicated pregnancy and why. Of the women questioned, 14.5% opted for an elective caesarean section at 39 weeks' gestation. The main reasons being to avoid maternal trauma, to avoid a prolonged labour and for fetal wellbeing. A caesarean section may have some potential benefits over a vaginal delivery and it is hard to refuse a well-informed woman an elective caesarean section on request, even if it results in a further rise in the rate of caesarean section.
Article
To assess determinants of a high Caesarean delivery rate in a remote population in China. A prospective cohort study including 20,891 women who gave birth between January 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998, in one of the 18 hospitals participating in a hospital-based regional perinatal surveillance system in Qingyuan, a remote rural region in Guangdong province, China. Of the 20,891 pregnant women registered by the Qingyuan Perinatal Surveillance System, 7.5% were delivered by elective Caesarean section, and 18.4% were delivered by non-elective Caesarean section. The most common indications for elective Caesarean delivery were socio-cultural, non-medical reasons, such as the woman's fear of pain, her wish to give birth on a date or at a time believed to be particularly auspicious, or her belief that delivery by Caesarean section would protect the baby's brain. Factors strongly related to elective Caesarean delivery included insurance status, maternal age, plurality, preeclampsia and eclampsia, gestational age, and birth weight. The most common indication for non-elective Caesarean delivery was cephalopelvic disproportion. Factors strongly related to non-elective Caesarean delivery included maternal age, preeclampsia and eclampsia, placenta previa, gestational age, and birth weight. Non-medical causes, including a woman's insurance status and her personal and social demands, accounted for a large proportion of elective Caesarean deliveries in this remote population in China.
Article
Unlabelled: Primary elective cesarean performed on a patient's request now comprises 4% to 18% of all cesareans and 14% to 22% of elective cesareans in reported series. Patients most commonly choose cesarean because of tocophobia, or fear of childbirth. Almost two thirds of obstetricians surveyed are willing to perform cesarean on request, citing decreased risk of pelvic floor or fetal injury, maintenance of sexual functioning, and physician and patient convenience. Contrasting these beliefs are the limited available data on short- and long-term maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality that generally favor vaginal delivery. Moreover, comprehensive economic impact assessments of cesarean on request are lacking, and professional organizations do not agree on the ethics of offering patient choice cesarean. Target audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians. Learning objectives: After completion of this article, the reader should be able to list the reasons that women and obstetricians choose elective cesarean delivery, to outline the ethical aspects of cesarean delivery, and to describe the material and fetal morbidity and mortality associated with cesarean delivery compared to vaginal delivery.
Article
There is a fundamental but unrecognised flaw in current thinking about caesarean delivery. Modern obstetrics teaching dictates that a caesarean delivery is either medically indicated or not--ie elective or on demand. Accepted indications include placenta praevia and cephalopelvic disproportion. We propose a rethinking that challenges the idea that all indications for caesarean delivery can be reliably categorised binomially. A grey area exists that has a larger effect on modern-day obstetrics than most people think. Discussion of elective caesarean delivery has been revitalised. Published work has examined the right of pregnant women to choose the mode of delivery whether or not there is an accepted medical indication. Scientific evidence about the safety and potential benefits of elective caesarean delivery has been accumulating. Obstetricians worldwide have identified the idea of caesarean delivery on maternal request as a contemporary ethical controversy. The US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is convening an expert consensus meeting on March 27-29 2006 to discuss this topic. (excerpt)
Article
PREFACE: Normal childbirth has become jeopardized by inexorably rising interventions around the world. In many countries and settings, cesarean surgery, labor induction, and epidural analgesia continue to increase beyond all precedent, and without convincing evidence that these actions result in improved outcomes (1,2). Use of electronic fetal monitoring is endemic, despite evidence of its ineffectiveness and consequences for most parturients (1,3); ultrasound examinations are too often done unnecessarily, redundantly, or for frivolous rather than indicated reasons (4); episiotomies are still routine in many settings despite clear evidence that this surgery results in more harm than good (5); and medical procedures, unphysiological positions, pubic shaving and enemas, intravenous lines, enforced fasting, drugs, and early mother-infant separation are used unnecessarily (1). Clinicians write and talk about the ideal of evidence-based obstetrics, but do not practice it consistently, if at all. Why do women go along with this stuff? In this Roundtable Discussion, Part 1, we asked some maternity care professionals and advocates to discuss this question. (BIRTH 33:2 June 2006)
Article
Background: Caesarean section rates are progressively rising in many parts of the world. One suggested reason is increasing requests by women for caesarean section in the absence of clear medical indications, such as placenta praevia, HIV infection, contracted pelvis and, arguably, breech presentation or previous caesarean section. The reported benefits of planned caesarean section include greater safety for the baby, less pelvic floor trauma for the mother, avoidance of labour pain and convenience. The potential disadvantages, from observational studies, include increased risk of major morbidity or mortality for the mother, adverse psychological sequelae, and problems in subsequent pregnancies, including uterine scar rupture and greater risk of stillbirth and neonatal morbidity. An unbiased assessment of advantages and disadvantages would assist discussion of what has become a contentious issue in modern obstetrics. Objectives: To assess, from randomised trials, the effects on perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, and on maternal psychological morbidity, of planned caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal birth in women with no clear clinical indication for caesarean section. Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (December 2005), MEDLINE (1974 to April 2005), EMBASE (1974 to April 2005), CINAHL (1982 to April 2005) and PsycINFO (1887 to April 2005). We also performed a manual search of the references of all retrieved articles, sought unpublished papers and abstracts submitted to international conferences and contacted expert informants. Selection criteria: All comparisons of intention to perform caesarean section and intention for women to give birth vaginally; random allocation to treatment and control groups; adequate allocation concealment; women at term with single fetuses with cephalic presentations and no clear medical indication for caesarean section. Data collection and analysis: We identified no studies that met the inclusion criteria. Main results: There were no included trials. Authors' conclusions: There is no evidence from randomised controlled trials, upon which to base any practice recommendations regarding planned caesarean section for non-medical reasons at term. In the absence of trial data, there is an urgent need for a systematic review of observational studies and a synthesis of qualitative data to better assess the short- and long-term effects of caesarean section and vaginal birth.
Article
The suggestion that planned cesarean birth is gaining acceptance among women has led some physicians to advocate the need for a trial of primary planned cesarean section versus planned vaginal birth in healthy women with singleton cephalic pregnancies at term. This paper reviews published studies of nulliparous women's views of mode of birth collected in the antenatal period, examining why women may express a preference for cesarean birth and exploring implications for the debate about the need for a trial. A systematic literature review was undertaken of Cochrane, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO using the MeSH heading "cesarean section" and four free text spellings of "cesarean," or "birth" or "delivery," near truncated synonyms of 17 words meaning expressed preference. Studies of nulliparous women with a medical indication for cesarean birth, studies where a woman's preference for mode of birth was reported in the postpartum period, surveys of midwives or obstetricians, and opinion and non-English language papers were all excluded. Nine papers were included in the review, which reported rates of women expressing a preference for cesarean birth that ranged from 0 to 100 percent at recruitment. However, the papers raised specific methodological, conceptual, and cultural issues that may have influenced women's preferences for mode of birth in the populations studied. These issues included the timing and frequency of data collection, complexity of factors determining individual women's decision making, and influence of societal norms. Little evidence is available that an increasing cultural acceptance of cesarean delivery will bring about support for a trial among pregnant nulliparous women. Further qualitative research investigating the influence of both obstetric and psychosocial factors on women's views of vaginal and cesarean birth is required.
Article
The purpose of this study was to investigate first-time mothers undergoing cesarean section in the absence of medical indication, their reason for the request, self-estimated health, experience of delivery, and duration of breastfeeding. We also aimed to study if signs of depression postpartum are more common in this group. In a prospective cohort study 357 healthy primiparas from two different groups, "cesarean section on maternal request" (n=91) and "controls planning a vaginal delivery" (n=266) completed three self-assessment questionnaires in late pregnancy, two days after delivery and 3 months after birth. Symptom scores from the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale at three months after birth were also investigated. Women requesting cesarean section experienced their health ass less good (p<0.001) and were more often planning for one child only (p<0.001). They more often reported anxiety for lack of support during labor (p<0.001), for loss of control (p<0.001), and concern for fetal injury/death (p<0.001). After planned cesarean section women in this group reported a better birth experience compared to women planning a vaginal birth (p<0.001). They were breastfeeding to a lesser extent three months after birth (p<0.001). There were no differences in signs of postpartum depression between the groups three months after birth (p=0.878). The knowledge gained from this study may help in understanding why some women prefer to give birth with elective cesarean section. It also elucidates the need for awareness of professional support during vaginal birth.
Article
We have recently identified three salient questions within the patient choice cesarean delivery controversy. First, is performing cesarean delivery on maternal request consistent with good professional medial practice? Second, how should physicians respond to or counsel patients who request patient choice cesarean delivery? Third, should patient choice cesarean delivery be routinely offered to all pregnant women? In a well informed patient, performing a cesarean delivery on maternal request is medically and ethically acceptable. Physicians, as patient advocates and promoters of overall health and welfare of their patients, however, should, in the absence of an accepted medical indication, recommend against medically unindicated cesarean delivery. While we believe that current evidence supports a physician's decision to accede to an informed patient's request for such a delivery, it does not follow that obstetricians should routinely offer elective cesareans to all patients. When a patient makes a request for an elective cesarean delivery, obstetricians, in their capacity as patient advocate, must help guide their patient through the labyrinth of detailed medical information toward a decision that respects both the patient's autonomy and the physician's obligation to optimize the health of both the mother and the newborn.