Women are being denied their right to an elective caesarean, new research suggests

Women are being denied their right to a caesarean birth, new research has revealed [Photo: Getty]
Women are being denied their right to a caesarean birth, new research has revealed [Photo: Getty]

Maternity units are making it difficult for pregnant women to request a caesarean, a charity has claimed.

Birthrights, a charity focusing on human rights in childbirth, has published new research which has revealed that women at many maternity units are being denied the right to choose a Caesarean birth.

Vaginal, water, home, there are plenty of options when it comes to giving birth, but not every birth will go according to plan.

And whatever method of delivery pregnant women choose, what’s important is that they have all the options to choose from so they can see what might work best for them and their baby.

Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggest women who request a C-Section should be offered one if, after support and discussion with a doctor, they feel it is the best option for them.

They also state that if one obstetrician is unwilling to perform an elective caesarean, the woman should be referred to another expert to help with her request.

In its report, titled Maternal Request Caesarean, Birthrights found that only 26 per cent of trusts were sticking to the guidelines and in reality many women were facing delays and difficulty in being granted a caesarean on non-medical grounds.

The charity said that this was creating “anxiety and distress to women at a vulnerable time”.

Women are being forced to fight to deliver their babies via caesarean [Photo: Getty]
Women are being forced to fight to deliver their babies via caesarean [Photo: Getty]

Rebecca Schiller, chief executive of Birthrights, said: “The women we support have endured previously traumatic births, physical ill-health, childhood sexual abuse or have carefully examined the evidence available and made informed decisions that planned caesareans will give them and their baby the best chance of an emotionally and physically healthy start.

“It is clear that women requesting caesarean sections meet judgemental attitudes, barriers and disrespect more often than they find compassion and support.

“We are concerned that this lack of respect for patient dignity could have profound negative consequences for the emotional and physical safety for women.”

So why are women being refused caesareans? Birthrights suggests cost may play a role.

According to The Telegraph it costs about £700 more to have a Caesarean, compared with a vaginal delivery.

“Some women say they have had cost quoted at them,” Rebecca Schiller continues. “‘You can’t have a Caesarean because it will cost too much,’ the trust might be fined, that the clinical commissioning groups themselves won’t fund those requests, but there doesn’t seem to be one reason,” she said.

The charity now hope that the research will help provide women with the information to choose a maternity care provider and in the long-term it might inspire a change.

“We want these results to act as a catalyst for transparency and consensus on this issue encouraging national bodies, service-users groups, campaigners and clinicians to come together to promote policy and guidelines on maternal request caesarean birth that truly meet the needs of women.”

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