Doctors are choosing C-sections over fears of being sued
More and more women are having C-sections because of doctors' litigation worries, a new study has revealed.
Thirty per cent of babies delivered in Ireland now arrive via Caesarean, in line with an increase around the world.
Taking into account the views of 9,008 midwives and obstetricians in 20 different countries over a 24-year period, researchers at Trinity College found that clinicians' beliefs are the main factor influencing this increase.
Many doctors worry that they may be sued if something goes wrong with a vaginal birth.
An "over-estimation" of the risk associated with vaginal birth is also to blame, according to the research.
"Caesarean section rates are increasing worldwide, particularly among first-time mothers, with limited explanation of the factors that influence the rising trend," said study author Sanita Panda.
"This is a big concern for health care professionals because vaginal birth is safer and associated with fewer complications."
Policy-makers should take note of these findings, added Professor Cecily Begley, Chair of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity.
"Clinicians often have multiple reasons for deciding to perform a CS; however, the key issue is the justification of these reasons and the impact of the decision on the mother and baby," she said.
"This study will be of significant benefit to policy-makers seeking to improve and promote normal births and reduce CS rates."