Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mother's Choice to Be Taken Away

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mother's Choice to Be Taken Away

Article excerpt

Byline: By Amanda Crook

Last year about 150 North-East women opted for a Caesarean section purely for lifestyle reasons - at a cost of pounds 300,000 to the local NHS. Health Correspondent Amanda Crook examines why new regulations will end every women's right to choose how they give birth.

THE growing trend for mothers to choose Caesareans over natural births costs the NHS pounds 25m each year. In an attempt to clamp down on the costs of the "too-posh-to-push" culture, women may soon be refused the operation without good medical reasons.

While the health service continues to promote patient choice, new guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice), expected in April, will rule that a mother's personal preference is not a good enough reason for a Caesarean.

It effectively puts the procedure on a par with other methods of elective surgery such as breast enlargement.

Women who want to follow in the footsteps of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Heather Mills will soon receive counselling to tackle their fears and encourage them to go down the natural route.

If they are determined to have the operation, they may be forced to go private, at a cost of pounds 5,000.

When Jo Holmes, of Whittonstall in Northumberland, gave birth to her third child Hugh two weeks ago, she elected to have a Caesarean because complications had prevented her from giving birth naturally twice before.

She said: "I had a 15pc chance of giving birth naturally and having been through the trauma of an emergency Caesarean, I was not prepared to put myself through that again.

"The doctors and nursing staff did not put any pressure on me to have an operation but they were relieved that I made that decision because they thought I would have complications with a natural birth.

"However, I don't think that women should be able to just choose to have a Caesarean if there are no medical grounds, because of the risks of the operation to mother and child.

"I don't think women realise how serious an operation it is. It will be another four weeks before I can pick up my children again or drive a car."

Gillian Hopkins, 37, a member of the North Tyneside branch of the National Childbirth Trust, endured more than 20 hours of labour when her daughter Bobbi was born 17 months ago but she is glad she stuck with the natural option.

She said: "Women's bodies recover much more quickly from natural births and they bond more easily with their babies. It is the way we are designed to be and I don't think people should be allowed to have Caesarean sections without health grounds."

Last year, there were 29,000 babies born in the North-East and one in five was delivered by Caesarean section.

Many of these operations were performed as emergency procedures because of complications during birth and about one in 10 was planned by mother and consultant in advance for medical or psychological reasons. …

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